INTERNAL CONDOM

An internal condom is a pouch that’s inserted into the vagina or anus.

EFFECTIVENESS
Not quite as effective as an external condom; more effective with spermicide.
SIDE-EFFECTS
Usually none, but it can cause a little irritation to your or your guy’s parts.
COST
Depending on where you get them, $0–$2 each.
WHERE TO GET THEM
Can find them online, at family planning and health clinics, and by prescription in drugstores.
ADDITIONAL BENEFITS
Hormone-free, helps protect against STIs.
OTHER NOTES
You MUST use an internal condom every time you have sex.

An internal condom—aka, a receptive condom and formerly known as a female condom—is a pouch that’s inserted into the vagina or anus. It’s not the prettiest thing in the world (it looks a bit like a floppy, clear, elephant trunk), but it does give people more control than an external condom and can help protect them from STIs. Internal condoms work the same way that external condoms do except they are worn on the inside of the vagina or anus, instead of sticking one on a penis. They keep sperm inside the condom so it doesn’t actually touch the vagina or anus.

Don’t double up!

It’s not safe to use an internal condom and a n external condom together. They create bad friction and could cause one or both condoms to break.

Your partner refuses to wear a condom.

If your partner won’t wear a condom, but you still want protection against STIs, the internal condom is the way to go.

Internal condoms take effort and commitment.

You have to make sure to use them correctly, every time, no matter what, for them to be effective.

Cool for people with latex allergies.

Unlike most external condoms, internal condoms are made of polyurethane (plastic) or nitrile (a synthetic rubber), so you can use them even if you’re allergic to latex.

 

Internal condoms are pretty easy to use, but they take a bit of practice and getting used to them. And remember, if you rely on internal condoms for birth control, you have to use one EVERY SINGLE TIME.

How to insert it into a vagina

  1. Put some spermicide or lubricant on the outside of the closed end.
  2. Get comfy, like you’re going to put in a tampon.
  3. Squeeze the sides of the closed-end ring together and insert it like a tampon.
  4. Push the ring as far into your vagina as it’ll go, all the way to your cervix.
  5. Pull out your finger and let the outer ring hang about an inch outside your vagina. It’ll look a little funny.

How to insert it into an anus

  1. Put some lubricant on the outside of the closed end.
  2. Squeeze the sides of the closed-end ring together and insert it past the sphincter muscle.
  3. Pull out your finger and let the outer ring hang about an inch outside your anus.

You may need to guide the penis inside the internal condom. That’s normal. If the penis slips out of the condom and into the vagina or anus, gently remove the condom and reinsert it. If your partner ejaculates outside of the female condom and into your vagina by accident, you may want to consider emergency contraception.

How to remove it

  1. Squeeze the outer ring and twist it closed like a baggie, so semen doesn’t spill out.
  2. Pull the condom out gently.
  3. Throw it away in a trash can, preferably one that’s out of reach of children and pets. Don’t flush it down the toilet! That’s bad for your plumbing.

This warning is worth repeating: You might think using a male condom along with a female condom doubles your protection. Not true. It makes both condoms more likely to rip. So don’t do it.

 

Internal condoms are available online for sure, and for a consistent price—usually somewhere in the range of $2 per condom. They’re not quite as cheap as regular external condoms, but if cost isn’t the only factor you’re considering, they can be a great option for preventing pregnancies and STIs. Local health departments and clinics sometimes have them for free. If you are insured, you can ask your physician for a prescription and then get them at a drugstore, and most insurances will cover the cost.

Internal condoms can help protect you from most STIs, including HIV.

There are positive and negative things to say about each and every birth control method. And everyone’s different—so what you experience may not be the same as what your friends experience.

The Positive

  • Can be used even if you’re allergic to latex
  • Is pre-lubricated but can also be used with additional oil-based or water-based lube
  • Stays in place even if the man loses his erection
  • Helps protect you from STIs

The Negative

  • Can cause irritation
  • Some people may be sensitive to certain brands of lubricant. If so, try another brand
  • An external condom cannot be used at the same time, as that makes both more likely to rip. So don’t do it!
  • Hard to remember to use if you’re using drugs or alcohol

Don’t take our word for it. Check out the videos to hear women and men talk about their experiences with the female condom.

Lindsay, 20, female condom

Anastasia, 21, female condom

Sean, 33, female condom

 

Expert dirt: “Another way to help prevent STIs during vaginal or anal sex.”