Internal (or 'female') condoms

Internal condoms (often called 'female condoms' or ‘Femidoms’) 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, internal condoms protect against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Condoms are the only type of contraception that protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

When used correctly, they are 95% effective at preventing pregnancy.

How it works

How to use it

First, check the packet for any signs of damage or expiry. Then push the condom to the side of the packet before tearing it open. Take the female condom out of the packet, taking care not to tear it.

Squeeze the smaller ring at the closed end and insert it into the top of the vagina, up to 8 hours before sex. Make sure that the large ring at the open end of the female condom covers the area around the vaginal opening.

When you are having sex, make sure that the penis enters into the condom. Remove the condom immediately after sex by twisting the large ring to prevent semen leaking out and then gently pulling the condom out of the vagina.

What it does

Condoms are a barrier method of contraception. They stop sperm from reaching an egg by creating a physical barrier between them. Condoms also prevent the transmission of STIs by providing a barrier.

Pros and Cons


  • Condoms are the only method that protect against both pregnancy and STIs.
  • You only need to use them when you have sex.
  • There are no serious side effects.
  • They come in different shapes, sizes, textures, colours and flavours which can make sex more fun.
  • They’re easily available. Find out how to get free condoms in Blackburn-with-Darwen.
  • You can use them in addition to other methods (e.g. the pill, implant, injection) for extra protection.
  • You can use them on sex toys.
  • Internal condoms are latex-free, meaning they can be used by people with a latex allergy.
  • You can use any lubrication with them including body oils, creams, lotions or petroleum jelly.
  • You can use internal condoms if you are using medication in the genital area, such as creams, suppositories or pessaries.


  • They can slip or get pushed up into the vagina if not used properly – if this happens or you are worried you may need emergency contraception.
  • You need to make sure the penis goes into the condom and not between the condom and the vagina.
  • They are not always available at every contraception and sexual health clinic and can be more expensive to buy than other condoms.


Should I use a condom for oral sex?

If you perform oral sex on a penis, you should use an external condom because gonorrhoea, chlamydia, oral HPV and herpes can be passed on this way. If you perform oral sex on a vulva, an internal condom will not provide any protection against orally transmitted STIs.

Can I use an internal condom if I have my period?

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.

Can I use an internal condom if I’ve just had a baby?

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.

Can I use lube with internal condoms?

Yes - any kind of lubricant can be used with polyurethane condoms.

Will I be asked for ID when buying condoms?

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

Can I use the internal condom if I’m pregnant?

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.

What should I do if the condom splits?

If the condom splits or comes out of place, you can visit a clinic or pharmacy to receive emergency contraception. You can also order emergency contraception online.

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

I am already using another form of contraception. Do I need to use condoms as well?

If you have not used your regular form of contraception correctly (e.g. missed pills) you will 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.