Condom (female)


  • Easy to use yourself
  • Suitable for unplanned sex
  • No side effects
  • Female condoms help to protect against STIs and pregnancy
  • If you're sensitive to the latex used in male condoms you can use female condoms
  • Does not require procedure / examination
  • Available in different shapes, sizes and flavours.

Condoms are the only type of contraception that protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Female condoms (often called ‘Femidom’) are made from very thin soft plastic called polyurethane, and are worn inside the vagina to prevent semen getting to the womb.

When used correctly, female condoms protect against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

*for typical use (effectiveness for perfect use 95%)

How it works

Things to consider

Condoms are a good method of contraception if you remember to keep them with you when you think you are going to have sex. You should also be confident about using them or asking your partner to use them.

Female condoms are not as widely available as male condoms and are more expensive to buy, but they are available free from sexual health clinics.

Can be inserted up to 8 hours before sex.

Female condoms become less effective at preventing pregnancy if:

  • The penis touches the area around the vagina before a condom is put on
  • The condom splits
  • The condom gets pushed too far into the vagina
  • The penis enters the vagina outside the condom by mistake
  • The condom gets damaged by sharp fingernails or jewellery.

What if?

The condom splits or comes out:

If this happens, you can use emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy. This is for emergencies only and shouldn’t be used as a regular form of contraception. You should also take an STI test as you may have been exposed to an infection when the condom split.

Depending on the type of pill, you need to take the emergency contraceptive pill up to 72 (three days) hours or up to 120 hours (five days) after unprotected sex.

The non-hormonal coil (IUD) can be used as emergency contraception up to 120 hours (five days) after sex.


Take the female condom out of the packet, taking care not to tear the condom – do not open the packet with your teeth.

Squeeze the smaller ring at the closed end of the condom and insert it into the vagina. (Female condoms can be inserted up to eight hours before sex).

Make sure that the large ring at the open end of the female condom covers the area around the vaginal opening.

Make sure the penis enters into the female condom, not between the condom and the side of the vagina.

Remove the female condom immediately after sex by gently pulling it out – you can twist the large ring to prevent semen leaking out.

Throw the condom away in a bin, not down the toilet.

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Any kind of lubricant can be used with female polyurethane condoms.

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No. There are no restrictions on buying condoms, or for getting free and confidential advice about using condoms or other contraception.

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If the condom splits or comes out of place, you can visit a clinic or pharmacy to receive emergency contraception (EC). To find your nearest EC service, visit

You should also take an STI test as you may have been exposed to an infection when the condom split.

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  • If you have not used your regular form of contraception correctly (e.g. missed pills) and you need a backup method until the effectiveness is re-established
  • You may feel that your regular form of contraception is not sufficiently effective and would like additional protection
  • You may use a highly effective method of contraception to prevent pregnancy (such as the implant) and use condoms in addition to prevent STIs.

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If you choose to have oral sex with a man, you should use a male condom because gonorrhoea, chlamydia, oral HPV and herpes can be passed on this way. If you are having oral sex with a women, a female condom will not provide any protection against orally transmitted STIs.

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Yes. Menstrual blood is a natural fluid and will not have any impact on the condom’s effectiveness.

If using condoms to prevent pregnancy you should use them during sex on any day of your cycle including during your period when there is still a small risk of pregnancy.

If using condoms to prevent STIs then you should use them during sex on any day of your cycle including during your period.

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Yes. If you think you are at risk of STIs, you should use a condom during sex when pregnant to protect yourself and your baby from contracting an infection.

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When you feel ready to have sex again, it is safe for you to use a condom. You may need to use one even if you are returning to another method of contraception, as it can take time for other methods to start working.

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Where can I get it?

You can get condoms free from the NHS – ask your local sexual health clinic or your GP. You can also buy condoms from most pharmacies and many supermarkets.

You will also see condoms in vending machines in pubs and clubs, and available to order online. Make sure to check the use-by date on the packaging, and always use condoms with CE marking. This means they’ve been tested to European safety standards.

If you are going abroad, take your favourite brand from the UK. That way you won’t have to rely on a local brand which could be packaged in a foreign language or which may not have been produced to the same standards.