Internal condoms

Internal condoms (female condoms) are a form of contraception. They prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and pregnancy.

If used correctly and consistently, internal condoms are 95% effective. This means that 5 out of 100 people using internal condoms as contraception will become pregnant in a year. In real world use, about 21 people a year out of 100 who use internal condoms become pregnant. This is because people forget to use it or don’t put it in properly (79% effective).

Internal condom (female condom)

How internal condoms work

Internal condoms are made from soft, thin polyurethane. They’re worn inside the vagina to prevent sperm getting to the womb. They can be put in up to 8 hours before sex.

Make sure that the penis does not touch your genital area before you put on a condom. Sperm can come out of the penis before full ejaculation (come).

If this happens, or if sperm gets into your vagina during vaginal sex while using a condom, you may need emergency contraception.

You should also consider having an STI test.

How to use an internal condom

  1. Take the internal condom out of the packet, taking care not to tear it – do not open the packet with your teeth.
  2. Squeeze the smaller ring at the closed end of the condom and insert it into the vagina.
  3. Make sure that the large ring at the open end of the female condom covers the area around the vaginal opening.
  4. Make sure the penis enters into the internal condom, not between the condom and the side of the vagina.
  5. Remove the internal condom immediately after sex by gently pulling it out – you can twist the large ring to prevent sperm leaking out.
  6. Throw the condom away in a bin, not down the toilet.

Using lubricant

Internal condoms are lubricated to make them easier to use. You may want to use extra lubricant (lube). This reduces the chance of the condom bursting.

Who can use internal condoms?

Most people can safely use internal condoms. You can also use them immediately after having a baby, miscarriage or abortion.

Internal condoms may not be suitable for people who don’t feel comfortable touching their genital area.

Risks of using an internal condom

There are no serious risks associated with using female condoms.

Where can you get internal condoms?

You can get condoms for free from:

You can also buy condoms from:

  • pharmacies
  • supermarkets
  • websites
  • vending machines in some public toilets
  • some petrol stations

Always buy condoms that carry the European CE mark or the UKCA mark on the packet. This means they’re tested to the required safety standards.

If you’re under 16

Anyone can get condoms for free in Scotland, even if you’re under 16.

Contraception services are confidential so the person won’t tell anyone else about it. You can ask them any questions you may have.

If you’re under 16, they might encourage you to tell your parents, but you do not have to.

The only time a professional might need to tell someone else is if they think you’re at risk of harm, such as abuse. The risk would need to be serious. They’d usually talk about it with you first.

Last updated:
20 December 2022