How to Properly Use a Female Condom

The Female Condom

Female Condom
Female condom. Dawn Stacey

The female condom is a barrier OTC birth control method that is placed in the vagina before sex. It's a pre-lubricated plastic polyurethane or nitrile (synthetic latex) pouch that is thin, soft and odorless. The female condom collects sperm before, during and after ejaculation. The fc Female Condom (formally the Reality Female Condom) is the only FDA-approved device for women that provides both pregnancy and STD/HIV protection. The outer ring of the female condom covers more of the vulva, so extra coverage may be provided for herpes, HPV warts or any other STD that can be contracted via skin to skin contact.

Using the female condom may be a little bit intimidating if you have never seen or used one before. But, once you become familiar with it, the female condom can be easy to use. Before using, it may be helpful to examine the female condom. The female condom has flexible rings at each end. The ring at the closed end holds the pouch in the vagina where the ring at the open end lies outside the vagina. The movable inner ring (at the closed end) secures the female condom by sliding into place behind the pubic bone. The fixed outer ring has an opening - this is where the penis glides in and out of the vagina during sex. The outer ring also remains on the outside of the vagina during intercourse. It covers the area around the opening of the vagina.

If you choose this method of contraception, it is important that you carefully read the instructions enclosed (in the box) before using the female condom. It may be helpful to practice inserting the female condom a few times before having sex, so you can feel more at ease with its use. Remember, each female condom can only be used ONE time. Also, you should NEVER use the female condom together with a male condom.

Open and Prepare the Female Condom

Dawn Stacey

Open the foil package of the female condom by tearing along one edge (there should be a notch on the upper-right and corner). Try not to tear down the middle of the package as this may increase the risk of tearing the condom. Take out the female condom and examine it for any discoloration, damage or holes. You should then rub the outside of the female condom pouch to make certain that the lubrication is uniformly spread inside the pouch (from the top to the bottom). If you wish, you can add some more lubrication inside the pouch – it is suggested that you start with adding just two drops.

Keep in Mind: if the female condom tears when you open the package, THROW IT AWAY and use a new one.

**The female condom can be inserted up to 8 hours before sex (though most women usually insert it between 2 to 20 minutes before sexual intercourse).

Before You Insert the Female Condom

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Try to find a comfortable position. You can try to squat down, sit with your knees apart, or while standing, put a foot up on a chair. Make sure that the inner ring (the closed one) of the female condom is hanging down, and the outer ring (open one) is on top. For additional comfort, some women prefer to add some lubricant to the outside of the inner ring and/or to the outer ring at this time.

Squeeze the Inner Ring

Photo © 2009 Dawn Stacey

Now, hold the female condom with the open end hanging down. Squeeze the inner ring (closed end) so that it becomes long and narrow. You can either:

  • Pinch the inner ring by squeezing it between your thumb, index finger and middle finger (#1).


  • Place your index finger between your thumb and middle finger and then squeeze the inner ring (#2).

Both of these ways work, so choose the method that you find easier. Keep in mind, the female condom is extremely slippery from the lubricant, so take your time. It may take a couple of tries to insert it properly.

Insert the Female Condom

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While you are still squeezing the inner ring, spread the lips of your vagina with your other hand. Using your index finger, gently insert the inner ring of the female condom as far into the vagina as possible.

Keep Inserting the Female Condom

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You should continue to insert the female condom by pushing the inner ring and pouch all the way up into the vagina until your finger reaches your cervix (similar to how a diaphragm would be inserted). A good indicator that you have inserted it far enough will be that you should no longer feel the ring. Make sure that the inner ring is up just past your pubic bone. You can feel the pubic bone by curving your index finger once it is a few inches inside the vagina.

Don’t worry that the female condom will go in too deep or get lost inside your vagina. This cannot happen. Once it is properly in place, the female condom will cover the opening of the cervix and line the vaginal walls. Again, the female condom is slippery, so it may take a few attempts before you have correctly inserted it.

Position the Female Condom Properly

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Before having sex, make sure that the female condom is in the correct position. After you have inserted it, the outer ring (at the open end) should remain about one inch outside of the vagina, resting against the labia (the outer lips of the vagina). Though this may look a bit unusual, the outer ring adds extra protection; and when the penis is inserted, some of the slack will decrease. Once you have become more comfortable with this method, you will probably not even notice the outer ring anymore.

It is also important that the female condom is hanging straight and is not twisted.

During sex:

  • You may want to add some lubrication directly to the penis and use your hand to guide it in to make sure that the penis is not inserted underneath or beside the pouch.
  • Don't worry if the female condom moves around or if the outer ring slides from side-to-side as this is normal.
  • If you notice that the female condom is sliding up and down in the vagina (with your partner's penile thrusts), you should add lubrication to the penis and/or inside the pouch.

You must stop, remove and insert a new female condom if:

  • The outer ring is pushed inside the vagina
  • The penis enters the vagina outside of the condom (in between the condom and the vaginal wall)
  • The condom tears
  • The condom bunches or twists inside the vagina
  • You have sex again

After Sex

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After sex (once your partner ejaculates), you must immediately remove the female condom. While still lying down (to prevent semen spillage), squeeze and twist the female condom’s outer ring as you gently remove the female condom (this keeps the sperm inside the pouch). Throw out the condom in a trash can (don’t flush it down the toilet). Never reuse a female condom.