The internal condom (also sometimes called a female condom or femidom, although that’s pretty cissexist since it presumes that only women have vaginas, & completely ignores the fact that internal condoms are also great for anal sex) is a great although rarely used alternative to the traditional external condom.
What does an internal condom look like?
The best way to describe it is probably like a very large external condom, except that, at the closed end there is a flexible plastic ring making the condom almost cylindrical in shape.
Internal condoms are usually sold in large plastic packets containing one condom. The packets are usually pink with the female gender symbol on them (although, again, internal condom’s aren’t just for women or people with vaginas).
How to use an internal condom:
- As with external condoms, the first thing you should do when you’re about to use an internal condom is check the packet. Is it still within the use-by date? Condoms do deteriorate, so using a condom after the use-by date makes it more likely to fail. Does it have a CE Mark, & preferably a kitemark too? These are consumer standards which mean the condom has been tested to ensure it is safe to use & will function correctly. Is the packet damaged? Condoms should be kept in cool, dry places where they will not be damaged. If the packet is creased or has any tears it is possible the condom has been damaged, so you should avoid using it.
- Once you’ve checked everything’s ok, push the condom to one side of the packet & then tear one corner - being careful not to tear the condom - & remove the condom from the packet.
- The flexible plastic ring sits inside the vagina or anus, & the easiest way to insert it is to squeeze it into a long, thin shape, & then insert it (in the same way you would insert a tampon). Once inside, it should return to the ring shape & sit at the top of the vagina, next to the cervix, or if you’re inserting it anally, just inside the anus. It may take some practice to get it to sit comfortable, & if you’re having difficulty inserting it, you may want to try getting more aroused, so that your muscles can relax, & accommodate the ring more easily. Once it’s in, just check that the outer section is sitting on your labia or anus, & then you’re ready to go (just make sure that whatever you’re inserting goes inside the condom, & the condom doesn’t slip inside you).
- Internal condoms come with a coating of silicone lube, but if there’s too much friction, feel free to add more. However, you should never use an internal condom with a external condom, as this will increase friction & make both condoms more likely to split.
- Once you’re finished having sex, twist the part of the condom which is outside your vagina or anus, trapping the ejaculate (if there is any) inside, then remove the condom. It might be easier to reach inside to squeeze the ring, but this may not be necessary.
- To dispose of the condom, slip it back in the wrapper or some toilet roll, & put it in a bin.
Advantages & disadvantages of using internal condoms:
- Some people with penises find that using external condoms reduce their sensitivity because they fit so close to the penis. Since internal condoms are larger, this is less of an issue.
- Internal condoms are also great for people who have difficulty finding external condoms that fit, since you don’t have to worry about the condom being too tight or too loose.
- Unlike most external condoms, internal condoms aren’t made of latex, so they’re a great option if you have a latex allergy but have trouble finding latex-free external condoms.
- Internal condoms can be inserted a few of hours before intercourse, meaning that you don’t have to pause between foreplay & penetration. This can also come in handy if you’re worried you might forget about using protection in the heat of the moment.
- Because the internal condom also covers the skin around the vagina or anus, it offers increased protection from STDs such as herpes & genital warts.
- Because internal condoms are larger & made of polyurethane, they have a tendency to be quite noisy during intercourse. However, they are constantly being improved & modern versions are much quieter than older styles.
- Internal condoms can be difficult to insert the first few times, especially if you haven’t had practice inserting things like tampons or menstrual cups.
- Internal condoms are also slightly more expensive than external ones, although you can get them free from sexual health clinic, or through C:Card on campus.
Essentially, internal condoms are a great alternative to external ones, but as with all methods of contraception, they’re not for everyone. If you give one a go & it doesn’t work for you then that’s fine, but don’t let the stigma around internal condoms put you off.