The female condom is a form of birth control and it provides protection against sexually transmitted diseases. It is inserted as many as eight hours before intercourse takes place. The FDA approved the female condom in 1993 as the first condom type device designed for women.
The female condom is made of a nitrile material that forms a protective sheath inside of the vagina. It has two rings, one that remains outside of the vagina and one placed inside. The closed end traps semen, preventing pregnancy and protecting against sexually transmitted diseases. The open end also provides some protection against STDs. The female condom is lubricated both on the outside for ease of insertion and on the inside for lubrication during intercourse.
Instructions for Female Condom Use
In order to use a female condom, you have to be comfortable with your anatomy since it is inserted vaginally.
- Hold the condom by the closed end with the open end hanging down.
- Squeeze the inner ring on the closed end with your thumb and index finger so that it is more of an oval shape than a circle.
- Place the inner ring inside of the vagina while squeezing.
- Push the inner ring in an upward motion toward your spine. You will feel it slide past your pubic bone which is a hard area on the upper wall of the vagina. Push the inner ring as far back as you can toward your cervix. (The cervix is the opening to the uterus and feels like a mini donut.) Your pubic bone will help the inner ring to stay in place.
- Use your fingers to feel that the sheath isn't twisted or bunched up. If it is, you will have to remove it and place it again.
- Before removing the female condom be sure to twist the outer ring to seal the contents inside of the condom. Pull the condom out gently by its outer ring.
Female condoms are beneficial for women who desire a method of birth control but want to avoid hormonal pills, shots or intra-uterine devices. Taking personal responsibility of both birth control and STD protection is also an advantage. Proper use of this device yields 95 percent efficacy. Since the product is available over-the-counter, female condoms are easily obtained. Women who are breastfeeding do not have to worry about female condoms affecting their milk supply the way some hormonal methods can.
Female condoms are not the cheapest form of birth control and protection available. They average two to three dollars each. Certain health conditions prohibit usage including vaginal and genital abnormalities. Some individuals may be allergic to the polyurethane used to make the condom which can cause irritation, rash and swelling. Additionally, they may not provide full protection against diseases that are transmitted via skin to skin contact such as genital warts since the labia is partially exposed.
Female condoms can be a good choice for birth control and personal protection for women who are comfortable using them. They require that you learn to use them properly for the best protection. If you feel uncomfortable using this form of contraception and protection against STD's, consult with your doctor for other methods that may be easier to use.