While most people know about condoms for men, I know some women (myself included!) who have been pretty uneducated about the female condom. So I thought I'd write a Female Condom 101 post to help clear up the basic questions about this method of birth control.
The female condom is a plastic pouch inserted into the vagina or anus for vaginal or anal sex, respectively. Like a latex condom, it is inserted right before intercourse and helps prevent pregnancy while also reducing the risk of STDs.
The pouch has two flexible rings at each end - there is a ring at the closed end that holds the pouch inside the vagina, and a ring on the open end that stays outside the vagina's opening during sex. It prevents pregnancy by catching male pre-cum and sperm.
Depending on how correctly you use the female condom, the method is 79%-95% effective in preventing pregnancies.
Besides the obvious benefit that a female condom allows a woman to take responsibility for preventing STDs during intercourse, there are other perks as well. If you're allergic to latex, the female condom can be a great alternative. It can be used with oil and water based lubricants. It's easily available and inexpensive compared to methods such as the birth control pill. It doesn't require a prescription and is non-hormonal. And unlike a latex condom, it stays in place even if the male loses his erection.
Planned Parenthood claims that women who insert tampons shouldn't have too much trouble inserting a female condom. After applying lubricant or spermicide to the closed end, you squeeze the ring and insert it into the vagina like a tampon, until the condom hangs about an inch out of the vagina. Your partner may want to insert a condom as a part of foreplay - no need to make it an awkward or disrupting experience! To remove the condom you simply twist the open end so that it doesn't spill any sperm and gently pull out of the vagina or anus.