If you’ve read this blog before, or received decent sex education in high school, you’re likely familiar with condoms. However, the typical condom that covers a penis or phallus isn’t the only kind of condom out there! These condoms can be referred to as ‘external condoms’ because there are also ‘internal condoms’. Rather than being placed over a penis or phallus, they are placed inside the vagina or anus.
In North America, “internal condoms” are often known as “female condoms,” since the only brand available that’s been approved by the FDA is the Reality Female Condom. This is a bit of a misnomer, though — they can be used by anyone of any gender. We’ll refer to them as internal condoms throughout this blog because of that.
So, what is an internal condom?
An internal condom is basically a very small bag made out of polyurethane. It looks like a large, unrolled external condom. Besides its size, the major difference is that internal condoms have two soft rings to help it stay in place. One ring is embedded into the condom right at the opening – this prevents the condom from being pushed inside the vagina or the anus. The other ring is removable and sits inside the condom – this is to help the person wearing the condom push it into place. This ring can be removed once it is in place if the users find it uncomfortable.
To insert it, simply pinch the removable ring and insert the closed end of the condom into the vagina or anus. The internal condom needs to be inserted before intercourse; it can actually be put in up to six hours beforehand. The outside ring stays outside of the vagina or anus, and make sure to hold it open when inserting the penis/phallus.
Since polyurethane doesn’t have as much give as latex (and since internal condoms fit loosely), some people find that internal condoms can make an undesirable or distracting “rustling” noise. If you find this, try changing positions or adding more lubricant.
Note: don’t use an internal and external condom at the same time! The extra friction will make both more likely to break.
To remove an internal condom after intercourse, carefully pinch the outer ring and remove the condom, making sure not to spill any bodily fluids. Make sure this is done before standing up! Then discard in a closed garbage can (don’t flush it down the toilet.)
If you found it hard to picture how an internal condom is properly used, check out a demonstration video by the manufacturers (note that is uses gendered language, but as stated earlier they can be used by any gender and in either a vagina or anus). It can be a little bit more difficult to insert them in the anus, but this guide gives some great troubleshooting instructions.
That may have seemed thoroughly complicated, but internal condoms actually have plenty of benefits over external condoms:
• One-size fits all: rather than relying on being snugly-fit onto a phallus, internal condoms rely on the lining of the vagina/anus and soft plastic rings to stay in place.
• Latex-free: although non-latex condoms are available, this is another non-latex option for anyone with a latex allergy. Polyurethane also transfers body heat better than latex, so some people may prefer non-latex barrier methods because of this.
• More skin-to-skin STI protection: when used properly, the internal condom can cover more skin of the vulva or anal opening, meaning that the users have greater protection against transmitting STIs that are passed from skin-to-skin contact (such as HPV and herpes).
If you think internal condoms might be an option for you, they are available at the Shopper’s Drug Mart at Princess and Bagot Streets, as well as at the SHRC.
This blog is being run in conjunction with the Sexual Health Resource Centre, located in the JDUC, room 223. Follow them on Twitter @shrckingston.
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