What is a female condom?

Learn more about female condoms and find out if they are right for you
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Condoms are the only contraceptive that protects against sexual transmitted infections.

A female condom is a sheath, made of a soft, fine material, which you insert into the vagina (like a tampon) to create a barrier against sperm. Unlike the male condom, the female condom can be used with oil and water based lubricants.

When taking the condom out of its packet, be sure not to tear it, as sharp fingernails and jewellery can easily tear a condom. It is also very important that you check the expiry date. Never use a male and female condom at the same time.

Benefits of the female condom

  • Like the male condom, it will help to protect you from unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • It is made of polyurethane, which means it is twice as strong as latex rubber male condoms, making it less likely to tear or split
  • Available without a prescription
  • There's no worry about using the right size because it is designed to gently line the vagina
  • It is a good choice if you like sex to be totally spontaneous, as it can be inserted any time before you have sex
  • The penis isn't restricted in any way – once the female condom is in place, you probably won't be able to feel it at all
  • No side effects
  • Can be used with oil and water based lubricants

Things to keep in mind

  • It is more expensive than the male condom
  • It takes practice to ensure that it is inserted correctly
  • May slip during sex
  • The outer ring can be seen outside the vagina, which can interfere with foreplay or make you feel uncomfortable
  • It may reduce sensation during sex
  • Creams such as those used to treat thrush can damage the condom

Where to buy a female condom

Female condoms are available in pharmacies, and for free from GOSHH in Limerick

Remember: The age of sexual consent in Ireland is 17. If you're over 16, you can consent to medical treatment including any treatment or tests needed.

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