When you hear the word “condom,” most people picture a latex sheath that rolls down over the head of the penis. That’s a “male condom” or, more accurately, an “external condom.” But did you know there’s another kind of condom? It’s commonly called a “female condom” and it goes inside a vagina or anus, instead of on the outside of a penis. And while it’s best known as a “female condom,” I'm going to go with “internal condom” from here on out because, a) it’s more accurate and b) it’s gender neutral. (As you’ll see, internal condoms can be used on any body, with any gender.)
Unfortunately, internal condoms don’t have a great rep. First of all, they’re not as common as external condoms, so the process for using them can be a little… Baffling. (Most of us saw that condom go on a banana in sex ed — but no one demonstrated how to insert a female condom.) The original design is a bit clunky for some people, with a material that’s been described as a “trash bag” by reviewers. However, recent advances in internal condom technology — including a new material that warms with the body and removal of one of the rings — have been approved in five countries and in Europe. Hopefully they’ll be hitting our shelves soon, too!
Before I get into reasons why you would want to use an internal condom, let’s talk about how you even use an internal condom. Because it goes inside the body, an internal condom can be used in either a vagina or an anus. Planned Parenthood recommends trying out a few different positions — standing with a foot on a chair, squatting, or lying down — to see what works best for your body. If you’re putting it in your vagina, you’re going to squeeze the inner ring together and push it in, similar to a tampon. You want to make sure it’s pushed all the way up to your cervix, in order to provide protection from pregnancy. Once it’s securely in place — and you’ve made sure it’s not twisted — pull out your finger and let the outer ring hang approximately an inch outside your vagina. If you’re having anal sex, follow the same insertion plan but skip the step that involves the cervix.
Got all that? It sounds trickier than it is, but you might need to try a couple of times before you nail it. Here six reasons you might want to use an internal condom for protection against STIs and pregnancy.