The complete guide to the internal condom - Play Safe
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Everyone knows what a condom is, but hands up if you’ve ever heard of the internal condom (also known as the female 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 internal condom protects against unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Want to know if they’re right for you? Read on…

What is the internal condom?

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

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

Because it covers some of the outer vaginal 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 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?

How reliable is the internal condom?

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

Pros and cons of the internal 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 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 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 condom?

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

Tips for using the internal 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 condoms where water-based lubricants are recommended, you can use internal condoms with water, oil or silicone-based lube