Internal/female condoms protect against pregnancy by stopping the sperm contained in semen coming into contact with the vagina. They also stop sexual fluids being transferred between partners which provides protection against STIs.
This page is about ‘female’ or ‘internal’ condoms, which are made of polyurethane and line the vagina. For information about ‘male’ condoms which stretch to fit over an erect penis or sex toy, go to the condom page.
Some key facts are:
Internal/female condoms line the vagina and protect against pregnancy by stopping the sperm contained in semen coming into contact with a vagina. As condoms stop sexual fluids being transferred between partners they are also the only method of contraception that protects against most STIs.
If they are used properly internal/female condoms are 95% effective. This means that five women out of every 100 who use condoms as contraception will become pregnant within a year. This is less effective than other methods of contraception. If you are using them as your only method of protection against pregnancy you may wish to speak with a doctor or nurse about the other methods that are available.
They are a method of contraception that protects against both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Internal/female condoms have lubrication on them, but some people like to use additional lubrication. Because internal/female condoms are made from polyurethane, you can use any lubrication with them including: body oils, creams, lotions or petroleum jelly (unlike latex condoms as these substances destroy the latex). You can also still use internal/female condoms if you are using medication in the genital area, such as creams, suppositories or pessaries.
Internal/female condoms are not always available at every contraception and sexual health clinic and can be more expensive to buy than other condoms.
You can get internal/female condoms FREE from:
Or buy your condoms, even if you're under 16, from:
If you go to a service to get internal/female condoms, you will usually have a private consultation where they will ask you a few questions and explain how to use them.
You and a friend or partner can also go to a clinic together and keep each other company. This might make it a bit easier for you.
Your condoms should come with instructions which you should follow, some general guidance instructions are:
Look after your condoms
Keeping condoms in your pocket or at the bottom of your bag for a long time might damage them. If the wrappers look damaged throw them away and get new ones. Always check the expiry date: out of date condoms are less effective.
You can use condoms immediately after having a baby.
You can use condoms immediately after having a miscarriage or abortion.
Page last reviewed: August 2015
Next review due: August 2017