Most condoms go on the man’s penis, but female condoms, which are sometimes called ‘Femidoms’, go inside the vagina.
When used correctly, Femidoms protect against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Lots of contraceptive clinics and HIV clinics provide Femidoms for free, although they are not as widely available as male condoms. You can also buy them from some pharmacies or from websites (for example, www.boots.com or www.freedoms-shop.nhs.uk).
The Femidom is a plastic pouch that you insert before sex and before there is contact between the vagina and the penis. It has two flexible rings: the ring at the closed end holds the Femidom in place in the vagina. The ring at the open end should remain outside the vagina during sex; it prevents the Femidom slipping inside. There’s no need to worry about it ‘disappearing’ inside you, as the vagina is a closed pouch.
Putting it in (full instructions come with every packet):
1. Find a comfortable position. You can stand with one foot on a chair, sit on the edge of a chair or bath, lie down, or squat.
2. Squeeze together the sides of the inner ring at the closed end of the Femidom and insert it into the vagina like a tampon. The Femidom is lubricated but you can add more lubricant either to the Femidom or to the penis.
3. Putting a finger inside the Femidom, push the inner ring into the vagina as far as it can go.
4. Pull out your finger and let the outer ring stay outside the vagina during sex.
5. Use your hand to guide your partner’s penis into the Femidom (make sure his penis doesn’t slip between the Femidom and the side of the vagina). You don’t have to take it out immediately after sex.
When you’re ready to take it out:
1. Squeeze and twist the outer ring to keep semen inside the pouch.
2. Gently pull it out of the vagina.
3. Throw it away in a dustbin (not the toilet).
Some women prefer the Femidom because they feel more in control and you can put a Femidom in several hours before having sex. Many women get pleasure when their partner rubs the outer ring against the clitoris . And some men like it because it feels good and doesn’t restrict the penis. The material it’s made from is thin and sensitive, so you can feel the heat of your partner.
The Femidom is loose-fitting and will move during sex. That’s fine as long as the penis stays inside the Femidom. Some women say the Femidom makes a ‘rustling’ noise, but gets quieter when it has warmed up or if more lubricant is used.
You should not use a female condom and a male condom together, as it makes it more likely that one or both will split.