What’s an internal condom and how does it compare to traditional condoms?
An internal condoms looks and feels like a traditional condom, but it’s a bit larger than the latter. This is because, rather than being pulled over the man’s penis, an internal condom (also known as female condom or FC2) is placed inside the woman’s vagina or inside the anus (applicable to both women and men in this case). There’s an external ring at the open end of the condom that prevents it from slipping inside the vagina or anus during sex.
Although some people say that internal condoms sometimes aren’t fitted tight enough, it’s a good alternative to traditional condoms and, as several studies have shown, it’s about as effective at preventing sexual transmitted diseases (STDs) and pregnancies as traditional condoms. This is also why the U.S. FDA approved its use as a contraceptive and STD protection tool.
The good thing about internal condoms is that it gives women more control over safer sex. One big benefit of internal condoms is that they can be inserted into the vagina several hours ahead of having sex. In contrast, when using a traditional condom, you have to first wait for your partner to get an erect penis. Putting on the condom then — opening the wrapping, taking it out, fitting it — may dampen the flow of the moment. With an internal condom you are well prepared. In internet forums, some women also claim that an internal condom stimulates the clitoris in a nice way, although whether there’s such an effect probably differs from person to person.
Internal condoms are sold as one size fits all, which is indeed the case, even though for some a few women the fit may feel a bit too loose, which can cause rustling sounds during sex. The condoms already are pre-lubricated but you can use additional lubricants to reduce the noise, if there is any.
How to insert an internal condom?
It’s a fairly simple process, but does take some practice at first. Therefore, for the first few times of usage, you may want to insert the condoms before you start having sex. After a couple of such trial runs, you’ll know how to do it quickly. Here’s how you do it:
- Open the condom wrapper at the “tear here” mark with care in order to not damage the condom. As with traditional condoms, never use a sharp tool (like knives) to open the wrapper. Examine the condom whether it looks intact. Nowadays, manufacturers test every condom for safety before its packed, but it doesn’t hurt to verify it yourself.
- Make sure that you have clean hands — you don’t want to contaminate the condom with bacteria that later on may cause you a urinary tract infection. Hold up the condom by the ringed closed end with two fingers and shake it lightly. The condom will then unfold itself into a straight tube-like pouch.
- Pinch the closed end together a bit and start inserting it into your vagina or anus. It will slide it relatively smoothly because it’s pre-lubricated. If for some reason you think it’s not going in smoothly, you can use additional lubricants. Both water-based and petroleum derivative lubricants) have been found safe by the U.S. FDA to use with condoms.
- Check that the outer external ring of the condom fits comfortably against the outside of the vagina or anus. If needed, adjust its position until it’s sitting comfortable.
- Now your partner can slide his penis into the condom, which actually is a comparatively easier job than putting on a traditional condom. One last check that everything fits right and that you don’t feel any discomfort, and then you are ready go.
- After you finished intercourse, remove and dispose the condom like you’d do with a traditional condom. You can pull out the condom by its external ring.
That’s really all there is to using an internal condom.
Are there any safety concerns with using internal condoms?
No, internal condoms are just as safe as traditional condoms, but there’s a low risk of technical accidents that’s good to be aware of.
Any condom can rupture during sex, and internal condoms are no exception here. Moreover, just like the penis can slip out of traditional condoms, it’s possible to slip out of the internal condom. But such accidents rarely happen: research shows that condom breakage only occurs in 2-4% of vaginal sex events and slippage is rarer yet with a 1% occurrence rate. So, there’s no need to be overly concerned that a condom will break, just don’t play it too rough and only use quality condoms by reputable manufacturers.
Don’t use internal condoms together with traditional condoms simultaneously. It’s not necessary and actually increases the risks of condom breakage, because the two condoms may stick together or rub against each other, which may rupture one or both of them.
“Effectiveness of an Intervention Promoting the Female Condom to Patients at Sexually Transmitted Disease Clinics.” American Journal of Public Health, vol. 90, no. 2, Feb. 2000, pp. 237–244, 10.2105/ajph.90.2.237. Accessed 30 Jan. 2020.
Hensel, Devon J., et al. “A Daily Diary Analysis of Condom Breakage and Slippage During Vaginal Sex or Anal Sex Among Adolescent Women.” Sexually Transmitted Diseases, vol. 43, no. 9, Sept. 2016, pp. 531–536, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4985014/, 10.1097/olq.0000000000000487. Accessed 30 Jan. 2020.
Mome, Ruth KB, et al. “Effectiveness of Female Condom in Preventing HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections: A Systematic Review Protocol.” BMJ Open, vol. 8, no. 8, Aug. 2018, p. e023055, bmjopen.bmj.com/content/8/8/e023055, 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-023055. Accessed 30 Jan. 2020.