Are female condoms effective? Know the pros and cons

Female condoms have their set of pros and cons for sexual health. To know about the advantages and disadvantages of female condoms, read on!
Safe sex practices
Safe sex can keep you away from unwanted infections. Image courtesy: Unsplash
Dr Teji Dawane Updated: 4 Sep 2023, 19:17 pm IST
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There exist a certain set of stigmas and myths around the use of female condoms, which stops women from using them as a method for contraception and safety. Are female condoms effective? What are the advantages and disadvantages of female condoms? How do men feel about condoms for women?
Such questions about female condoms, which are also known as internal condoms, make people apprehensive about their use. But the purpose of female condoms is simply what male condoms serve – prevent unwanted pregnancy.

What is a female condom?

A female condom is a barrier contraceptive device designed to be used by individuals with vaginas to prevent pregnancy and protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis. Unlike male condoms, which are worn externally on the penis, female condoms are inserted into the vagina before sexual intercourse. But they both help in preventing pregnancy by stopping the sperm to travel to the egg.

Traditionally, couples have used male condoms. So, if you are curious about the pros and cons of female condoms, let us take you through them.

How effective are female condoms?

Many women have doubts regarding the effectiveness of these condoms. Some even wonder if it will hurt their vagina and that’s one of the common reasons why women feel reluctant in using such products. If you wear it properly and follow all the necessary instructions of how to use female condoms, they are very effective in preventing unwanted pregnancy. It is known to be 95 percent effective if you use it correctly.

female condoms safety
Female condoms give women the freedom to take charge of their sexual well-being. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Different people may have heard of different kinds of stigmas about the use of female condoms.

What are the advantages of female condoms?

Check out the benefits of female condoms!

* You can purchase internal condoms from medical stores without any prescription
* They are safe to use during pregnancy, childbirth and even during menstruation
* When it comes to preventing unwanted pregnancy, internal condoms are very effective
* They are also effective in preventing STIs
* They are not made of latex, but a relatively softer material. Nitrile is used for their manufacturing which won’t cause your skin to get irritated or allergic
* These condoms can be worn about 8 hours before sex. Thus, you won’t need to rush when the time comes
* You can use oil-based or water-based lubricants during sex, and it won’t cause the condom to be less effective
* Female condoms have a relatively longer shelf life. They can last up to 5 years without being damaged from sun or humidity
* There are no serious health complications associated with female condoms. It is very safe to use

What are the disadvantages of female condoms?

There may also be some cons of female condoms.

* Female condoms are relatively more expensive than male condoms
* Wearing a female condom can cause you a slight discomfort and not all females like the feel of it.
* They may not be as widely available as male condoms over the counter, but you can find them online!

* It can prevent the contact of penis and vagina which can reduce the chance of clitoral stimulation which can make the sex less pleasurable.
* Female condoms are only available in two sizes medium and large. However, in India only one size is available.
* It does not have spermicidical gel.
* Though female condoms can be washed and re used, it is always recommended to use a new one every time.

Also read: Male vs female condoms: We finally figured out which one is more effective

contraceptive methods
There are multiple contraceptive methods available for men and women today. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Important things to keep in mind about female condoms

1. You should not use female condom and male condoms together as the friction caused by both can make the condoms to tear and can cause the sex to be less pleasurable and more painful.
2. Do not tear the packet of condoms with any sharp object that can damage the material of it.
3. In the case of breaking, The female condom bunches up in vagina. Make sure to remove and replace it immediately.

4. Remove tampons or menstrual cups before you put the condoms on.
5. Even though it is not necessary, but it is always advised to remove condoms immediately after sex which helps in avoid any kind of sperm spillage.
6. Female condoms do not eliminate the STI risk by 100 percent but they do provide you significant protection. Make sure you read all the instructions on the packet carefully and follow them.

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About the Author

Dr Teji Dawane is a senior consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Motherhood Hospitals, Whitefield, Bengaluru. She is a member of the Federation of Obstetrics & Gynaecology Societies of India and the Indian Medical Association. She was associated with Narayana Hospitals before joining Motherhood Hospitals, Whitefield, Bengaluru. With over 8 years of experience in obstetrics, she manages a range of complex and high-risk pregnancies and complications like diabetes, hypertension, preterm labor, and multiple pregnancies with the most ease. She also has received vigorous training in handling various gynaecological problems like ovarian disorders, menstrual problems, and uterine fibroids. ...Read More

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