Questions you might have about internal condoms

You've probably heard of internal (or female) condoms, but there's not a lot of information out there about this barrier method of contraception. Here we answer all the questions you might have about these condoms.

Why do you call them internal condoms?

Internal condoms are sometimes called female condoms. Or people know them by the brand name, Femidom. We call them internal condoms, because they sit inside the body. And we know that people of different genders use them for different types of sex.

How do you put them in?

Internal condoms have a ring at each end. If you’re using the condom for anal sex, you might want to remove the inside ring. If you’re using it in your vagina, keep both rings.

One thing that people particularly like about this type of condom is that you can put them in place before sex starts. You can wear an internal condom for up to 8 hours if you need to.

To start, get in a comfortable position. Lying down or putting one foot up on a chair can work well.

To put the condom into your vagina, squeeze the sides of the inner ring (at the closed end of the condom) and insert it like a tampon. Push it in as far as you can go.

To put the condom in your anus, do the same - use your finger to push the condom inside.
You should have the outer ring and some of the condom sitting outside your body. Hold this open when the penis or sex toy is going in to make sure they enter the condom.

Can they get lost inside you?

Your cervix keeps the condom inside your vagina and stops it from moving any further into your body, so it cannot get lost. If the outside ring of the condom gets pushed inside your vagina or anus you can gently remove it and then make sure it’s in the right position.

In some cases, you will not be able to remove the condom yourself. If this happens, you’ll need to get help from a clinician. You need to get the condom removed as soon as you can, as it can cause infection if it stays inside you for a long time. Head to A&E or your local sexual health clinic for help in this situation.

Can you use them for anal sex?

You can. UK guidelines for safer sex, from the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) and the British HIV Association (BHIVA) say that they can be used for anal sex.

Can I use internal and external condoms together?

No. Never double up with any kinds of condoms. It actually lowers the amount of protection you have - the friction between the condoms can make them weaker and more easily torn.

Condoms do a great job of preventing STIs and pregnancy. But if you do want extra protection, use them with another contraception like a non-hormonal coil or contraceptive pills.

Can I pee with it in?

If you are wearing an internal condom in your vagina, you can just hold the external ring to one side if you need to go for a pee.

How effective are they?

Internal condoms are 95% effective with perfect use and 79% effective with typical use. This means 21 of 100 people using them will get pregnant in 1 year.

Why aren’t they as popular as external condoms?

There’s a whole mix of reasons, from practical to cultural, why we hear more about external, or male, condoms than we do about internal ones. For a start, internal condoms are not as easily available as external condoms. And often they’re a bit more expensive. They do not come in the same range of brands, sizes or textures either, so there’s a lot less choice.

Many of us are not taught about internal condoms in sex education, even though we’ll definitely be taught about external ones and most likely shown how to use one. They are generally seen as unpopular and inconvenient, which means we do not speak about them as much and we do not hear about them in pop culture.

There’s lots of misconceptions about internal condoms, and they can seem complicated on the first try. But it’s always worth knowing about your safe sex options, especially as internal condoms are one of the few barrier methods that protect from STIs as well as pregnancy.

Written by Hel Burrough. Senior Content Designer, SH:24 and Fettle
Reviewed by Helen Burkitt. Senior Sexual Health and Contraception Nurse
Last updated at: 02 February 2024
Published on: 31 October 2023