Healthy lives for young people
Contraception

Internal (or female) condoms

Internal (or female condoms) are like other condoms except they fit inside the vagina instead of covering the penis. They are made of polyurethane and line the vagina.

Quick guide

How they work

Internal condoms line the vagina to protect against unwanted pregnancy and STIs. Read more

Pros and cons

Internal condoms protect against both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
You can put them in up to eight hours before before you have sex
They can slip or get pushed up into the vagina if not used properly
The penis goes into the condom and not between the condom and the vagina

Read more

Where to get them

Internal condoms are not always available at every contraception and sexual health clinic and can be more expensive to buy than other condoms. Use our Find a Service tool to find places near you. Read more

How they work

Internal condoms line the vagina and protect against unwanted pregnancy by stopping the sperm contained in semen coming into contact with a vagina (which could lead to an egg being fertilised).

They also stop sexual fluids being transferred between partners which provides protection against STIs.

Pros & cons

Pros

  • Internal condoms protect against both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • You can put them in up to eight hours before before you have sex
  • You only need to use them when you have sex
  • There are no side effects
  • When used correctly they are 95% effective at protecting against pregnancy
  • You can use them in addition to other methods (e.g. the pill, implant, injection) for extra protection
  • Internal condoms are made of polyurethane and are slightly wider than other condoms
  • You can use internal condoms if you are using medication in the genital area, such as creams, suppositories or pessaries.
  • You can use any lubrication with them including: body oils, creams, lotions or petroleum jelly

Cons

  • 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

Where to get them

Internal 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 free condoms from Brook services, young people’s services, contraception clinics, GUM clinics and some GP surgeries. Use our Find a Service tool to find places near you.

You can also buy condoms, even if you’re under 16, from pharmacies, supermarkets, vending machines in public toilets and online.

How to you use internal condoms

When used correctly internal condoms are 95% effective at protecting against pregnancy.

  1. Before opening, feel for the internal condom inside the packaging and push it to the side so that when you tear it open you don’t tear the condom as well
  2. Take the condom out of its packet and making sure there are no rips in it
  3. Lie or squat down
  4. Separate the labia (the lips of the vagina) with one hand
  5. At the closed end of the condom, squeeze the flexible inner ring (this stays inside the condom) between your thumb and finger, making it long and narrow and gently insert it into the vagina as far as it will go
  6. Make sure that the large ring at the open end of the female condom covers the area around the vaginal opening
  7. Gently push the squeezed ring of the condom into the vagina as far as it will go
  8. Now with your middle finger gently push the inner ring as far up into the vagina as you can so that it rests just above the pubic bone. The outer ring should hang outside the body
  9. Don’t worry if the condom is a bit loose – that’s how it’s meant to be
  10. Make sure the penis enters into the condom, not between the condom and the side of the vagina, it can help if you guide the penis into the vagina
  11. After sex twist the outer ring of the condom to keep any semen inside the condom and gently pull it out
  12. Wrap the condom in tissue and throw it in the bin (don’t flush it down the toilet)
  13. It’s a good idea to put the condom in before the penis touches the vagina or genital area
  14. You can put the condom in when you are lying down, squatting or with one leg on a chair. It’s worth experimenting with putting the condom in to find the position that suits you best

Internal condoms dos and don’ts

DO

  • Check the expiry date – out of date? don’t use it. It could split
  • Check for the BSI kite mark or CE mark on the pack. If it’s not there, don’t use them – you can’t rely on them
  • Always use a brand new condom – they can only be used once
  • Use lube if you need it
  • Take care that you don’t rip them with sharp nails or jewellery

DON’T

  • Don’t use an internal condom if there are any rips, holes or damage to the pack
  • Don’t use two condoms together as this increases the chances of them splitting or tearing
  • Don’t use internal condoms if the wrappers look damaged
  • Don’t use the condom if you’ve already tried putting it on the wrong way. It’s easily done but you should throw it away as it may have touched some pre-come, or semen which could mean there is a risk of pregnancy.
  • Don’t let the penis touch the area around the vagina before a condom is inserted, because pre-come (fluid which leaks of out the penis before ejaculation) may contain sperm

If the internal condom breaks

If the condom has broken, split, slipped off or you’re worried it was used incorrectly use our find a service tool to find your local sexual health service where you can have a STI test and emergency contraception if there is a risk of unwanted pregnancy.

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