The female condom helps prevent pregnancy. Among various benefits, the female condom:

  • Offers protection from sexually transmitted infections — perhaps even better protection than the male condom because the female condom partly covers the labia
  • Is available without a prescription or special fitting
  • Can be inserted hours before sex
  • Rarely causes allergic reactions and has minimal risk of side effects
  • Doesn't require a partner's cooperation or an erect penis

Unlike latex — the material used to make most male condoms — female condoms made of polyurethane and synthetic latex aren't affected by dampness or changes in temperature. In addition, some women find that the female condom's external ring stimulates the clitoris.

The female condom isn't appropriate for everyone, however. You may want to consider another type of birth control if you:

  • Are allergic to polyurethane or synthetic latex
  • Are at high risk of pregnancy — you're younger than age 30, you have sex three or more times a week, you've had previous contraceptive failure with vaginal barrier methods, or you're not likely to consistently use the female condom
  • Aren't comfortable with the insertion technique
  • Have vaginal abnormalities that interfere with the fit, placement or retention of the female condom
Jan. 21, 2012