The $7.5 billion condom industry rides shotgun on the sexual wellness train for good reason. Condoms are essential tools for preventing unwanted pregnancy and reducing the spread of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD). Condom usage dates pretty far back, too. Rubber condoms originated in 1855, but semen-blocking devices of all kinds go all the way back to 11,000 BC.
Traditionally, when you think of condoms, you may think of the kind designed for the male sex organ. However, as sexual wellness evolves, condoms for both internal and external use are an available and effective way to prevent pregnancy and STDs.
So, what’s the difference between female condoms vs. male condoms? In this guide, we’ll explore how each type works, the effectiveness of female vs. male condoms, their advantages and disadvantages, and how to use both.
You may or may not have heard of a female condom, which is still equally important for sexual health and intercourse. Female condoms showed up around the early 20th century, and are making a comeback in sexual protection. Female condoms, or internal condoms, aren’t just for females. Sexual partners of any gender can insert them into the vagina or anus for protection against excretive fluids, STDs, and bacteria during sex.
Types of female condoms
Female condoms are widely recognized by couples, healthcare professionals, and even the FDA as a reliable preventative measure.
You might hear female condoms called one of the following names:
The last one, FC2 female condom, is the only FDA-approved and available internal condom in the U.S.
Materials in the FC2 internal condom
The FC2 internal condom can be inserted into the vagina or anus up to 8 hours before sex. Because it sits inside the body, the product has higher quality standards for materials.
The FC2 condom is composed of:
It’s estimated that 450 million male condoms are sold every year in the U.S. Male condoms, or external condoms, are a highly adopted form of contraception because of their broad availability, ease of use, and relatively attainable cost.
External condoms are placed over the penis to block ejaculative fluids during sex. They can be used for penetration of both the vagina and anus. When used for male-female sexual intercourse, they can help prevent pregnancy, and in all cases, they can help reduce the spread of STDs.
Types of male condoms
You can find a healthy variety of these sperm blockers at your local pharmacy or grocery store. According to Statistica, the most popular condom brands in the U.S in 2020 were:
Materials in the external condom
Latex is the most common material in standard condoms. However, some people may be sensitive or allergic to it, so alternatives are also available.
Non-latex –The non-latex variety is good for people with sensitivities or allergies to latex. They can be comprised of polyurethane, polyisoprene, or lambskin. Please note that lambskin condoms do not protect against STDs.
Female vs. male condoms
As with other different types of birth control, it’s best to compare the different types of condoms to find the right fit for you. When it comes to condoms, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for everybody. The choice of female vs. male condoms ultimately depends on your comfort and preferences.
To help with your decision between female vs. male condoms, take a look at the chart below to see how they compare in terms of pleasure, risks, effectiveness, and cost.
But wait—the benefits of condoms don’t end there. There are a wealth of advantages to consider between female condoms vs. male condoms.
Advantages of male condoms
Convenient and easy to use, there are plenty of advantages to using male condoms:
Advantages of female condoms
Female condoms offer a multitude of benefits including:
Though the benefits certainly outweigh the drawbacks, there are a few cons to consider between female condoms vs. male condoms.
Disadvantages of male condoms
As with all things, there are a few disadvantages to consider when using a male condom:
Disadvantages of female condoms
Be sure to familiarize yourself with the possible drawbacks of female condoms:
How to use condoms?
When looking at condoms vs. birth control alternatives, the master method for maximum condom efficacy is to use them every single time you have sex. Yes—even if you’re on birth control pills or have an IUD inserted. Birth control pills and IUDs don’t defend against STDs. Condoms do, and they boost pregnancy prevention power in addition to your birth control method.
Male and female condom use is easier than it sounds but it's important to look out for a few things. Pro tips for using condoms the right way, every time:
Don’t let the newness of internal condoms intimidate you. Inserting them is easy and requires just three simple steps.
Step 2. Pinch and slide – Get into a comfortable position. Then, pinch the smaller, closed inner ring with your thumb and forefinger and insert it into the vaginal or anal opening. If using for vaginal sex, think of this as inserting a tampon or menstrual cup.
Step 3 – Secure with your finger – It may take some practice and adjustments, but internal condoms should sit comfortably in the body. If you feel discomfort, adjust or try again. The larger, open ring will be visible at the vagina’s opening.
Once you’re ready to have sex, insert the penis into the large ring’s opening. To remove, twist the outer ring to trap semen inside and gently tug on the outer ring to pull it out and discard it.
Whether you learned on a banana in 6th-grade health class or it’s your first time, this technique is easy to master. External condoms can be applied by either partner.
Step 3. Lube it up – At this point, you can add lube to the condom as well as the vaginal or anal openings to ease insertion, minimize friction, and increase pleasure.
To remove an external condom after sex, gently pull the penis out of the vagina or anus. Then, slide the condom off of the penis, being careful not to spill any fluids before discarding it.
Safe Sex Your Way with Favor
The decision between female vs. male condoms is ultimately yours to make, but what we know for sure? Either option is better than none at all for protecting your body against unwanted pregnancy or harmful STDs.
Here at Favor, we’re empowering women and people who menstruate to make their own choices about their sexual and reproductive health. We’re here to help you make the best choices for you—but not by yourself. Whether you’re wondering about the types of condoms or other birth control methods, like Slynd birth control (mini-pill), Lutera birth control combination pill, etc., you can browse the options available and learn more.
We’ve built a community of healthcare professionals who you can rely on for judgment-free support for your unique health and wellness. Birth control, emergency contraception, skincare, and more—designed for you.
PR Newswire. Global Condoms Market Report 2022: Market to Reach $11 Billion by 2027 - Condom Manufacturers Shifting Focus Towards Luxury Condoms. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/global-condoms-market-report-2022-market-to-reach-11-billion-by-2027---condom-manufacturers-shifting-focus-towards-luxury-condoms-301519025.html#:~:text=The%20global%20market%20for%20Condoms,over%20the%20period%202020%2D2027.
The Maudern. a brief history of the condom. https://getmaude.com/blogs/themaudern/a-brief-history-of-the-condom#:~:text=In%201839%2C%20inventor%20Charles%20Goodyear,more%20than%20a%20little%20cumbersome.
National Library of Medicine. Female condoms. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9678099/
At Favor, our goal is to provide the most up-to-date, objective, and research-based information to help readers make informed decisions. Articles are written by experienced contributors; they are grounded in research and evidence-based practices. All information has been fact-checked and extensively reviewed by our team of experts to ensure content is accurate and on par with current industry standards. Articles contain trusted third-party sources that are either directly linked to in the text or listed at the bottom to take readers directly to the source.