Birth Control FAQs: Female Condom

These days, people have an endless array of options when it comes to birth control.  However, with so many available choices, it can be difficult to navigate the sea of birth control options.  To help, Nurx is developing a series called “Birth Control FAQs,” in which they aim to empower consumers by answering the most frequently asked questions for each birth control type.

Whether you’re looking to learn more about how female condoms work or what happens when you get an implant, Nurx has you covered. While we don’t offer female condoms, we would love to talk with you about getting started with the birth control pill that works for you, and we’ll even give you your first pack for only $5.

What Is the Female Condom?

The female condom, known by its brand name FC2, is a sheath inserted into the vagina or anus to prevent pregnancy and the transmission of STIs. The female condom acts as a barrier to prevent the passage of sperm to an egg. When used vaginally or anally, the female condom also acts to block sexually transmitted infections. The female condom is prescribed and priced nominally, and in most cases, is covered by insurance. Although we don’t carry the female condom at this time, Nurx offers many contraceptive options from pills to patches.

How It Works

FC2 is inserted into the vagina or anus in a method similar to inserting a tampon. The sheath has two rings, one on either end. The ring at the open end remains outside the vagina to surround outer genitalia. Since the female condom is larger than a male condom, it doesn’t fit snugly around the penis and may be more comfortable for both parties. When initiating intercourse, the outer ring is held in place and the penis guided into FC2. The female condom is removed by twisting the outer ring, then carefully sliding the sheath out.

Because the inner and outer rings may contact the head of the penis, as well as the clitoris during intercourse, some users report increased stimulation and pleasure from contact with the rings. The act of inserting the female condom is an intimate experience and may be incorporated into foreplay.

Availability

The female condom is not as readily available as male condoms, but can usually be found at sexual health clinics, online retailers, and select pharmacies. Available by prescription, most insurances may cover all or part of the cost of FC2.

Effectiveness

Because the female condom doesn’t rely on an erection to stay in place, it doesn’t have to be removed immediately following ejaculation. When used correctly and consistently, FC2 is 95 percent effective. Spermicide may be added to increase effectiveness.

Side Effects

There are no known side effects to the female condom. For those allergic to latex, the female condom is a safe, hypoallergenic alternative to male condoms.

Important Information

Although there is little risk to using the female condom, users are warned against combining it with the male condom as this does not increase effectiveness and could cause one or the other to break. FC2 should never be used more than once. If used for anal sex, FC2 should be inserted immediately before sex, as the muscles of the sphincter could draw the condom further into the body. If the female condom should tear or break during use, an emergency contraceptive may be considered.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Does the Female Condom Compare to the Male Condom?

Since the female condom can be inserted up to two hours in advance of vaginal intercourse, its use is less intrusive than interrupting sex to put on a male condom. For those whose partners don’t like to wear male condoms, FC2 empowers women and provides the same, or better, level of protection.

Does the Female Condom Prevent HIV?

Since FC2 can be used in the vagina or the anus, it is an effective barrier against HIV when used correctly and consistently. Note that no barrier method is 100 percent effective.

Can I Urinate While Wearing FC2?

Yes! Since FC2 does not interfere with the urinary tract, urination isn’t impaired while in use, though you may need to move the outer ring out of the way.

Do Female Condoms Expire?

Yes. Packages contain stamped expiration dates and information. Do not use FC2 if the expiration date has passed.

What If the Outer Ring Gets Pushed Into the Vagina?

Stop and remove FC2 then insert a new condom.

Does the Female Condom Hurt?

When used correctly, inserting FC2 is similar to inserting a tampon and should not be painful. If discomfort is experienced while inserting the condom, try repositioning or replacing the sheath and try again.

How Much Do Female Condoms Cost?

Female condoms are available by prescription and may vary in cost. Expect to pay $20-$30 for a box of 12 condoms. Some insurances may cover the prescription cost of the female condom or they may be available for free at family planning centers.

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