The complete guide to the internal or female condom - Play Safe
The fun stuff
NSW Government
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Everyone knows what a condom is, but hands up if you’ve ever heard of the female condom (also known as the internal condom)? This lesser-known barrier contraceptive gets inserted into the vagina or anus before sex.

Just like the condom you’re probably already familiar with, the female condom protects against accidental pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

It was originally invented to give women more control over their sexual health, but of course, it can be used by people of all genders. Want to know if they’re right for you? Read on…

What is the internal or female condom?

It is made from thin latex or polyurethane and has two rings; one inner ring that fits against the cervix, and one external ring that fits against the outside of the vagina/ anus.

The internal/ female condom is a barrier contraceptive which means it prevents semen and other bodily fluids from passing from one sexual partner to the other.

Because it covers some of the outer vagina lips/ the outside of the anus, it can also help protect against skin-contact viruses like herpes and warts which other contraceptive methods don’t.

How do you use an internal or female condom?

  • Remove the condom from its wrapper and pinch the inner closed ring together
  • Insert that ring as far into your vaginal canal/ anus as possible. Use your finger for this – it’s a bit like inserting a tampon
  • The large external rim of the condom should cover some of the outer part of your vagina/ anus
    After you’re done, gently twist the outer ring to prevent spillages and pull out carefully

Did you know that the female condom can be inserted up to eight hours before having sex?

Watch this video for step-by-step instructions:

How reliable is the internal or female condom?

If used correctly, it is up to 95% effective, but it’s important to follow instructions carefully.

Pros and cons of the internal or female condom


  • Protects against STIs and pregnancy unlike many other forms of contraception
  • Easy to use if you follow the instructions carefully
  • Can be inserted up to eight hours before having sex
  • No side effects (check materials on the packet if you have a latex allergy)
  • Gives people more control over their sexual health
  • Non-hormonal contraceptive solution


  • They’re less common than the external (male) condom meaning they can be harder to find
  • It might take a few tries to get used to them if you haven’t used one before
  • They can be more expensive than male/external condoms

Who should use the internal or female condom?

Although it was invented for vaginal sex, it can also be used for anal sex. If you’re using one for anal, check out these instructions.

Where can I buy the internal or female condom?

Being less common than the external/ male condom, you might find it a little tricky to find the internal/ female condom. But they are out there! Try your local family planning clinic, sex shop, or pharmacy.

Tips for using the internal or female condom:

  • Don’t use an internal condom and an external condom at the same time as this can cause tearing
  • Condoms are single-use – throw away once used (wrap it in tissue and throw in the bin, not down the toilet)
  • Unlike external/ male condoms where water-based lubricants are recommended, you can use internal/ female condoms with water, oil or silicone-based lube
Could I have an STI?