The Female Condom: Will It Get Stuck Inside Me?

Photo credit: Micheal Grogan

Photo credit: Micheal Grogan

The FC2 female condom (a.k.a. the “internal condom”) is one of the most recent innovations in safer sex technology. The FC2 is the only insertable contraceptive available that protects against both STIs and accidental pregnancy. However, because it is so different from traditional roll-on condoms, many are weary of using female condoms.

One of the most common concerns is that the female condom will get stuck inside the body. Melissa White, CEO of Lucky Bloke, to the rescue, assuring us that it is impossible for the FC2 to disappear inside your body. In fact, she explains, there are many reasons to choose the FC2 over traditional latex condoms.

This post was originally published on Your Tango.

BY MELISSA WHITE | LuckyBloke.com

While the female condoms seems a bit confusing, it’s a great option for many women. We tell you why.

At Lucky Bloke, our mission is to lead you to the land of amazing sex with condoms. With a selection of the world’s best condoms at our fingertips, we’re here to prove that the right condom can actually improve your sex life. Got a question for the Lucky Bloke: Condom Experts? Let us answer your sex education inquiries so you can concentrate on having the hottest sex possible!

Dear Lucky Bloke,

I’ve heard that there is a female condom that you insert in your body and protects just as effectively as a regular condom. But why does it seems so large? And can it get stuck inside my body?

—Signed Perplexed in Pittsburg.

The FC2 female condom, which we prefer to call the “internal condom,” might seem oddly shaped at first, but that’s because it’s radically different from what we understand condoms to be. A female condom is actually similar in length to standard male condoms, but is a little wider.

When inserted, the condom forms to your internal walls and allows for movement of the penis inside the sheath. This is one of its many benefits. One size, actually, fits all!

Thus, penis size (nor knowing what condom size your man requires) is not a factor with female condoms making it an excellent option for those who find that traditional, roll-on male condoms never seem to fit quite right.

So contrary to your concern, there is absolutely no risk of the FC2 getting stuck or disappearing inside you. And you do not need to be fitted before use. There is an inner ring on one end that slips under your cervix. Then there is an open end with a soft ring which remains on the outside of the vagina. To remove the FC2, you simply twist the outer ring and gently pull the condom out.

The FC2 is growing in popularity. Many people like the advantage that condom size is not a factor for comfort and safety. Plus, it can be inserted up to four hours prior to sex, so no need to pause for intimate donning in the heat of the moment. And it’s latex free!

Another great bit of news is that the FDA is currently considering reclassifying the FC2 as a “class II” device. Why is this important? Currently, the FC2 is not in the same class as traditional condoms.

They are considered a “class III” medical device, putting them under the same safety restrictions as pacemakers and replacement heart valves, states the National Female Condom Coalition.

Moving FC2 into the new class would enable invention and testing of new and different female condoms designs. While the FC2 has made huge advancements in terms of non-latex offerings, it remains the only female condom currently available.

As we all know, product variety means safer sex option for all of us to choose and best suit our lives. What better reason than that?

Unsure what size

Good to Know: STI Prevention Hacks

Photo credit: Peter Gerdes

Photo credit: Peter Gerdes

There is nothing worse than getting your sexy on only to realize that you don’t have any condoms (or dams). Preparation makes safer sex very easy to practice without interrupting your groove.

But did you know that there are quick solutions if you do find yourself unprepared?

Bedsider here sharing five ways to expedite your access to safer sex tools. Only one thing we would add to this list: Purchase easy-travel pillow packs of lube so that you can have them with you anywhere you go.

This post was originally published here.

BY BEDSIDER | Bedsider.org

Think STI prevention kills the mood? Or that it’s always kind of a hassle? No way.

A little planning makes it very easy to protect yourself against an unintentional pregnancy and STIs. But what do you do when there’s no time to plan ahead and you really, really want to have sex? These hacks can help you stay safe in the moment without losing a minute of sexy time.

Stay healthy and happy,
Bedsider

P.S. Curious about the implant or shot? Our Real Stories feature women and men talking about the methods they use.

condom ad condoms too loose

bedsiderBEDSIDER is an online birth control support network for women operated by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen & Unplanned Pregnancy. Bedsider is totally independent (no pharmaceutical or government involvement). Honest and unbiased, Bedsider’s goal is to help women find the method of birth control that’s right for them and learn how to use it consistently and effectively, and that’s it.
Find Bedsider on twitter @Bedsider

Condoms Breaking? You’re Probably Doing It Wrong

#93 - The Accident

Photo credit: John O’Nolen

National Condom Week 2015 is here! From Feb. 14th to Feb. 21st, we are celebrating by providing a new article every day by prominent sexual health advocates focused on condom use and education.

Here is Heather Corinna, sex educator and founder of Scarleteen, discussing the common reasons why condoms break. The truth is that condom malfunction is very rare. So if you are experiencing a series of rips and slips, it’s more likely the error is caused by you and your partner, not the condom.

Here are the main culprits of condom breakage. Read more below for a comprehensive guide. 

  • An expired condom.
  • A damaged condom due to improper storage (e.g., in your wallet).
  • Not leaving enough room at the tip of the condom.
  • Not enough lubrication.
  • Using more than one condom at the same time.
  • Not removing or changing the condom after ejaculation.
  • Tearing the condom with teeth when opening the package or during oral sex.
  • Using the wrong size condom.

BY HEATHER CORINNA | Scarleteen

As we’ve explained in the past, like here, with proper use, condoms actually break very rarely. The common mythology that condoms are flimsy and break all the time is just that: mythology, not reality. Different studies on latex condom breakage tend to reflect a breakage rate of around .4%, or only 4 breaks in every 1,000 uses. So, if you’re having condoms break often, especially before you’ve even used them a few hundred times, it’s not likely something is wrong with condoms, but that something is wrong with the way you’re using them. That’s not surprising, since a lot of people don’t get good information about how to use condoms correctly, or ever see clear, slow demonstrations of proper use where they also get the chance to ask questions.

Since we’ve been having some users lately reporting patterns of breakage, we thought we’d take a few minutes to walk you through a review of some common issues that tend to make breakage more likely, so that those of you using condoms can avoid breaks and have them provide you the high level of effectiveness in preventing pregnancy and STIs you are using them for.

Have you checked the expiration date? Condoms past their expiry date are much more likely to break, because the latex can start to break down. If they’re past the expiry date, they also may have been shuffled around for a long time. The expiry date put on a condom — which you can always find right on the package of every individual condom — is usually for around five years after it’s been manufactured, so you’ve got a pretty good time window. Our advice? Make sure a condom is not only within its expiry date, but around six months ahead of it, the time when a lot of condom resellers dump a batch instead of continuing to sell them. Don’t use condoms past their expiry dates: toss them out and get yourself new ones.

Are you or your partners storing them properly? Sometimes people carry around what we’ll call the “wishful thinking” condom. That one condom they keep in their wallet from the dawn of time, thinking if they have that one condom, they’ll be more likely to have an opportunity for sex. Or maybe you just think that will assure you’ll never be without a condom when you need one, which would be great if the condom you had had been stored properly.

Condoms need to be stored somewhere that doesn’t get too hot or cold, where they’re not directly exposed to sun or fluorescent light, and where they don’t get bumped around a lot. Back pockets, wallets, the bottom of a purse or inside a car dashboard compartment are not sound places to store condoms. If you want to carry a condom or two around with you, find something you can put them in that protects them, like a pencil case, or in the box they came in if you bought a whole box. There are also cases made expressly for storing condoms, and sometimes when you buy condoms, you might find some already specially packaged in a storage case.

Condom storage is also something to think about before you even have the condom yourself. Some places that sell or dispense condoms don’t store them properly, potentially screwing them up before you even get them. That’s why machines that dispense them aren’t such a great place to get them, nor are places like gas stations, which often keep them near the front windows, where it can get hot or sunny. When purchasing condoms, look for them to be in a spot where temperatures are moderate and they’re not in direct sunlight. You also want to avoid hand-me-down condoms, too, however well-intentioned the person who gave them to you may be. Who knows how that person stored them.

Leaving room in the tip? You don’t put condoms on like you put on a sock or stocking, where you pull them all the way on so that they’re snug at the tip. Instead, we need to leave a little bit of room — around a half inch or so, or the width of two fingers, if that’s easier — at the tip for ejaculate and so the condom can move around a little bit. That makes them feel more comfortable, too.

Using enough lubricant? Plenty of condoms come pre-lubricated, but that’s only a smidgen of lube. More times than not, especially for intercourse that goes on for a while — and more so with anal intercourse than vaginal, since the anus doesn’t produce its own lubricant — you’ll need some extra lube right from the start, or to add lube during sex. Even with vaginal intercourse, while the vagina often produces its own lubrication when the person with the vagina is aroused, lube is often still needed. It’s pretty common for younger people to feel nervous or have issues with arousal, so not being as lubed up on your own as you might be otherwise is typical. Too, if you’re using a hormonal birth control method like the pill, one common side effect is a drier vagina. While we don’t endorse mixing sex with drugs or booze, being wasted also tends to impact lubrication, especially with alcohol. By all means, drinking impairs our judgment no matter what, making it a lot harder to use condoms at all, let alone properly, but it also often inhibits parts of the sexual response cycle. Whatever the reason, chances are awfully good that you need more lube than a condom itself offers. Plus, putting a drop or two of lube inside the condom, as well as more liberally on the outside, makes condoms feel a lot better, too.

Feeling funny about using lube? Don’t, seriously. People have used lubricants for as far back as we know, and if you ask us, beautifully engineered, clean lube in a bottle or tube is a serious improvement over animal guts or blubber, something we know people way back in the day used as lube. The idea that a body creating enough lubricant on its own gives a person some kind of sexual status, and that not being lubed up enough on your own means something is terribly wrong, are both really problematic ideas. Lube makes things feel better most of the time, and it helps condoms be more effective. We can probably agree that there’s no status in sex feeling less than as good as it can, or in a condom failure.

Remember, what you use as lube with latex condoms matters a lot. When buying lube, look for the tube bottle or packet to make clear a lube can be used with condoms. Oil-based lubes or oils, lotions or vaseline are NOT okay to use with latex condoms.

One condom per customer. If you have the idea that two condoms at a time are better than one, ditch it, and fast. That only increases friction, which increases the possibility of breakage. Only use one condom at a time.

Same goes for thinking thinner condoms will be more likely to break: that’s not true. Thinner condoms often feel better and are just as effective as thicker ones.

 

Does the condom fit? Condoms really aren’t one size fits all. Sure, most brands will fit a lot of people just fine. But some brands or styles don’t work for plenty of folks. So, if a condom is really tough to get on or off, hard to roll down, won’t roll down all the way, or feels uncomfortable, try out some different sizes or brands. If we have to struggle with condoms, we’re more likely to put them on wrong or just ditch them altogether. And with so many options in condoms, there’s no reason anyone should have to use a size or style that doesn’t work for them. The right condom usually feels great and works just as well. Even if you’re getting condoms for free from a clinic or school, you’ll often have more than one option, so snag a few different ones when you can.

Carrying condoms when you’re not the one wearing them? If so, see if you can buy variety packs, so you have more than one style or size around in case another just doesn’t work out. Most condom manufacturers sell combination boxes of a couple different styles or fits, sold right where you can get boxes of only one style or size. If you feel funny about having a variety and worry about judgment from a partner, remember that what you’re doing is having an assortment so they’re most likely to have a condom that feels good for them. Every partner is going to appreciate that.

Unsure what size

Are you or your partner hanging around after ejaculation or starting intercourse again without changing condoms? Male condoms are manufactured and designed for a single use: in other words, for only one session of intercourse or one ejaculation. After ejaculation happens, it’s really important the person wearing the condom withdraws pretty immediately. If you want to continue that sexual activity or start again, you need to put on a new condom.

Breaking during oral sex use? That’s even more unusual than breaks during intercourse, but if it’s happening, we’ve got one word for you: teeth. You’ve got’em, and they’re sharper than you think (just ask your lunch). If condoms are breaking during oral sex, and they were put on properly, stored properly, and are within the expiry date, teeth are probably the issue here. Remember that during oral sex, you’ve got to watch those little sharpies, both for a partner’s comfort, but also when using condoms.

While we’re talking about teeth, don’t forget that they’re not what you want to use to open a condom. That can easily rip or tear the condom. You want to use your hands to open a condom, not your mouth.

Practice makes perfect. So does patience. If you’re racing around in a big hurry to put a condom on, it’s a lot easier to make mistakes. And when everyone is turned on, they can be a lot tougher to notice. So, if you aren’t already an expert with putting condoms on — whether you’re the person who wears them or not — practice. If you are the person wearing them, practice during masturbation, where you don’t have the pressures we can all feel when there’s a partner there. If you aren’t the person wearing them, get some condoms and find something suitable to practice on: the age-old banana is always an option, and one of our users today said she practiced using a deodorant can.

Remember that it’s ideal for everyone involved with condom use to know the right way to use them and how to put them on. Not only can putting them on for a partner make condoms feel like part of sexual activity, rather than an interruption, we all have different levels of experience and skill with condoms, as well as different levels of condom education. So, if both people know how, and one person is doing something wrong, rather than finding out the hard way, the other person can easily make a correction so condoms work as well as you want them to, every time.

Don’t forget about the female condom! If no matter what you do, male condoms (and we know, this female/male language doesn’t make a lot of sense, and certainly isn’t very inclusive, but it’s what they’re called right now) don’t seem to work out for you, try a female condom to see if that works better. Female condoms are non-latex, and far roomier at the base and through the shaft than male condoms are, and they can also be inserted well in advance of intercourse to help you avoid game-time fumbles. As well, if you or a partner prefer not to withdraw soon after intercourse, that’s okay with female condoms in a way it isn’t with male condoms, which are more likely to break or slip off when withdrawal doesn’t happen soon, or if intercourse is something you continue after ejaculation. Female condoms can be a bit tougher to find, so if you want to try them and are having a hard time finding them, check in with your local sexual health or family planning clinic.

Have questions or want someone to walk you through all the steps of proper condom use so you can be sure you’re doing it right? We’ve got your back: come on over to the message boards, or use our text service. We’re happy to talk with you one-on-one.

P.S. We just got a helpful addition to this list from Scarleteen reader and peer sex educator Katarina Albrecht. She said, “Another important point: Do NOT poke your finger carelessly into the tip to correct the direction for rolling them off! We teach people to blow into the tip to change the direction or be reeeally careful with their nails. We’ve been seeing so. many. girls (and boys) do this with their long, sharp, nicely manicured fingernails.” Thanks, Katarina!

heatherHEATHER CORINNA is an activist, artist, author and the director of Scarleteen, the inclusive online resource for teen and young adult sex education and information. She is also the author of S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-to-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College and was a contributor to the 2011 edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves. She’s received the The Champions of Sexual Literacy Award for Grassroots Activism (2007), The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, Western Region’s, Public Service Award (2009), the Our Bodies, Ourselves’ Women’s Health Heroes Award (2009), The Joan Helmich Educator of the Year Award (2012), and The Woodhull Foundation’s Vicki Award(2013).

scarleteenSCARLETEEN is an independent, grassroots sexuality education and support organization and website. Founded in 1998, Scarleteen.com is visited by around three-quarters of a million diverse people each month worldwide, most between the ages of 15 and 25. It is the highest-ranked website for sex education and sexuality advice online and has held that rank through the majority of its tenure.
Find Scarleteen on twitter @Scarleteen

Before You Stop Using Condoms….

before you stop using condomsIt is very common for couples to start off the relationship using condoms and then, as the relationship lasts, their reliance on condoms decreases until perhaps they wish to stop using condoms altogether. But there are some steps to take in order to make this transition away from condoms a healthy one. In this article from Bedsider, Jessica Morse lists things to consider and explains how to follow through when taking condoms out of your sexperience. Prepare to take yourself to a health care provider.

In summary, here are important points to consider if you plan to stop using condoms:

  • Condoms and internal (or “female”) condoms are the only form of protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • Many STIs do not show symptoms all the time. It’s worth taking a trip to the health clinic and getting a full-screen STI test. As well as making sure you or your partner’s Pap smear is up-to-date.
  • Depending on your test results, follow through with the appropriate waiting time until the next test and/or complete your treatment.
  • Have discussions with your partner. Is pregnancy a risk? Which birth control method should you use?  Are you quitting condoms in order to get pregnant?

This article was written by Jessice Morse, MD, MPH, and was originally published here

BY BEDSIDER | Bedsider.org

Condoms are great— they’re available in almost any drug store or clinic and they protect against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). More than half of U.S. couples use a condom when they have sex for the first time, and over 93% have used condoms at some point.

The number of couples relying on condoms tends to go down as relationships last longer, so it’s safe to say a lot of couples start off using them and then switch to another method of birth control when they become exclusive. Starting a new method of birth control (maybe one that’s more effective for preventing pregnancy than condoms) doesn’t have to mean forgoing condoms. Doubling up with condoms and another method is a great option for many couples. But if you and your partner have been using condoms and want to stop, here are a few things to square away beforehand.

Get your test (GYT)

Male and female condoms are the only methods that can protect against STIs. That includes the ones that can easily be treated—like gonorrhea and chlamydia—and the not-so-easily treated—like herpes and HIV.

Just because neither of you have bumps or rashes doesn’t mean you’re necessarily in the clear; STIs can be there without you even knowing it. So even if you’re pretty sure you don’t have an STI, you should both get tested for common infections like chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV. You may also want to ask about a herpes test; your healthcare provider will usually ask questions to figure out if it makes sense to test for that too. It’a also a great time to make sure your HPV vaccine series (3 shots!) is done and your Pap smears are up to date.

All of these tests can be done without a physical exam:

  • For chlamydia and gonorrhea, you just need to provide a urine sample. Yup, it’s a simple as peeing in a cup.
  • For HIV, syphilis and herpes, it’s a blood test. That means providing a small sample of blood at a lab or clinic.

Then just a few days of awkward waiting and you’ll have your results!

Drumroll, please

Once you get your test results, you may have a few more steps to take before it’s safe to stop using condoms.

Positive for chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis
These STIs can all be cured with antibiotics. You may take pills, get a shot, or both. The treatment depends on the type of infection. You may be done after one shot, one pill, or a week of pills. Your healthcare provider may recommend that you get tested again in the coming months to make sure the infection is cleared up. If you have any symptoms or concerns after you’ve finished the treatment, talk to your provider and decide what to do.

Positive for HIV, herpes, or hepatitis
These STIs can’t be cured, but they can be managed with medicines that reduce the viral load (the amount of the virus in your body) and a partner’s chance of getting the same infection. Although the medicines reduce the chance of giving the virus to a partner, they don’t guarantee it. That means that you’d need to talk to your partner about how you both feel taking this chance without condoms. (If you decide to keep using condoms, you’re in good company. About 10% of U.S. couples of all ages rely on condoms.)

All clear

If you’re both in the clear, you can have the “let’s stop using condoms” conversation.

If you’re not ready for kids yet: This is a good time to talk about what other method you want to use for pregnancy prevention. Obviously whoever is using the method should have final say, but it might be nice to have both partners involved in the decision. You can also talk to your healthcare provider to help you figure out which method is best for you.

If you’re quitting condoms in order to start trying for a baby: It’s a good idea to check in with your healthcare provider a few months ahead of time. Even for women without health problems, there are some basic things you can do to have a healthier pregnancy. For example, taking prenatal vitamins prevents certain types of birth defects. Your provider can also give you good tips for how to increase your chances of getting pregnant. Good luck!

bedsiderBEDSIDER is an online birth control support network for women operated by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen & Unplanned Pregnancy. Bedsider is totally independent (no pharmaceutical or government involvement). Honest and unbiased, Bedsider’s goal is to help women find the method of birth control that’s right for them and learn how to use it consistently and effectively, and that’s it.
Find Bedsider on twitter @Bedsider