What is an Internal Condom?

An internal condom (sometimes called a “female” condom) is inserted into the vagina or the rectum, a flexible plastic ring holds it in place at the vaginal or anal opening. They are made of Nitrile (a soft and flexible type of plastic).

How do condoms work?

  • For birth control, they prevent pregnancy by keeping the sperm away from the vagina.
  • For STI protection, they act as a physical barrier method that works to protect against STIs by reducing contact with partner(s) bodily fluid and skin.

How effective are internal condoms?

  • When used as birth control they are approximately 79% effective at preventing pregnancy.
  • When used as a birth control method, they are ideally used with another birth control instead of on their own.
  • They are very effective at preventing STIs – they may provide more coverage of the skin which offers greater protection against skin to skin STIs (such as warts and herpes)
  • Available without a prescription
  • One size fits all  
  • Can be put in place up to 6 hours prior to insertive sex
  • Can be expensive and hard to find.
  • May take a few times to get used to inserting and using.

What do I need to know before I use condoms?

  • Store condoms somewhere cool and dry as heat and sunlight can damage them.
  • Always check the expiry date before using a condom.
  • Have more than one condom in case one is damaged, expired, or put on the wrong way.
  • Do not use condoms that have damaged packages, are sticky, brittle, discoloured, or have no air in the package (which could mean there is a hole).
  • Open the package and remove the condom gently (be careful of teeth or long nails).
  • Adding extra lubricant (lube) can help condoms feel better and make them less likely to break or slip off. With latex condoms only use water or silicone-based lubes. Oil-based products break down latex.
  • Use a new condom for each act of vaginal, oral, or anal sex. Never reuse a condom.


Internal Condoms

How effective are they at preventing pregnancy? About 79% effective, which means that about 21 people out of 100 using them as their only form of birth control get pregnant in a year.
How effective are they at protecting against STIs being passed? Very effective for STIs passed through bodily fluids as well as providing greater protection against STIs passed through skin-to-skin contact (such as HPV and herpes) as they cover a wider area of skin.
Why might I choose internal condoms over external condoms?
  • All internal condoms are non-latex
  • Receptive partners can have more control over condom use
  • Are less likely to break
  • Are more effective at preventing STIs
  • Can be inserted ahead of time so they don’t interrupt sexual activity
  • Less likely to affect an erection
How do I use it?
  • Insert the condom up to 6 hours before intercourse.
  • For anal sex, take out the inner ring.
  • For vaginal sex, squeeze the inner ring together and insert the closed end of the condom.
  • The outer ring sits over the outer lips of the vulva or outside the anus.
  • Hold the outer ring when putting the penis or toy inside the condom so that it does not slip in along the side.
  • Take it out right after sex by squeezing and twisting the outer ring to keep fluids inside and pull the condom out.
  • Throw it out in a covered the garbage container (never in the toilet!)

What if the condom breaks or falls off?

Consider STI testing and emergency contraception if needed.

Questions? We’re here for you!

We know it can be confusing to choose a method. We are here to help.

You can visit one of our Options for Sexual Health Clinics to speak with a health care provider.

Our Sex Sense Team is available Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. by phone 1-800-739-7367 or by email at to answer your questions about birth control, or any other questions about sex, sexuality, or sexual health.

This fact sheet contains general information and should not be used in place of individual consultation with a qualified healthcare provider.

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