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Female condoms

Female condoms are worn inside the vagina to prevent semen from getting into the womb. When they are used correctly and consistently, female condoms are 95% effective at preventing pregnancy.

What is it?

Female condoms are worn inside the vagina to prevent semen from getting into the womb. They are made from a thin, soft plastic. They can prevent pregnancy and STIs. When they are used correctly and consistently, female condoms are 95% effective at preventing pregnancy.

Who can use it?

Most people can use condoms safely. However, they might not be the best method of contraception for those who are not comfortable with touching their genital area.

What are the advantages?
  • They help to protect against many STIs (including HIV).
  • They are a reliable method of preventing pregnancy if used consistently and correctly.
  • You only need to use them when you have sex- no advanced preparation is needed and they are suitable for unplanned sex.
  • There are no medical side effects in most cases.
What are the disadvantages?
  • Some couples find that putting in a female condom interrupts sex.
  • Condoms are strong but they might split or tear if not used properly.
  • Female condoms are not as widely available as male condoms and are more expensive to buy.
  • The female condom can be made less effective if the penis touches the area around the vagina before a condom is put in, the female condom gets pushed too far into the vagina, the penis enters the vagina outside the female condom by mistake or the condom gets damaged by sharp fingernails or jewellery.
Where can you get it?

Female condoms are available for free at some sexual health clinics and some GP surgeries. However, some places might only offer male condoms. Female condoms are available free to 13-24 year olds on the C-Card scheme.

You can buy female condoms from pharmacies, supermarkets, websites, mail order catalogues, vending machines in some public toilets and some petrol stations. If you buy condoms online, make sure you buy them from a pharmacist or other legitimate retailer. Always choose condoms that carry the European CE mark or British BSI Kitemark as a sign of quality assurance.

British BSI Kitemark and European CE mark

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