The Internal Condom

There are a lot of problems associated with condoms. Latex tastes and smells bad, and some people have bad reactions to it. Condoms should fit snugly on the penis but can lead to loss of erection. Some people forget to wear a condom correctly, if at all. Some folks get bored with using condoms and want something different.

The good news is that there’s a non-tightly fitting, non-latex, easy-to-use alternative that’s on the market for a decade called the internal condom.

The internal condom is often called the “Bottom condom” or “Female condom.”

It’s like a regular condom, only larger, and it is inserted in the rectum (or vagina) instead of being rolled onto the penis. Inside the condom, there’s a small ring that holds it inside the rectum. There’s also a large ring that holds the internal condom in place outside, making slippage very difficult. It’s made out of polyurethane instead of latex, so it’s safe for people who are sensitive or allergic to latex. Polyurethane warms to skin temperature more quickly and feels more like skin.

A few tips on using the internal condom:

  • Be sure to practice inserting it before having sex. It’s different than the regular condom; so make sure you know how to use it before trying it with a partner. Use a lot of lube. Since bottom condoms aren’t latex, you can use a variety of different lubes, including oil-based ones.
  • The internal condom is a bit more expensive.
  • The internal condom is a great alternative to traditional condoms, but some people do have problems using them. They may not be for everyone.
  • Compared to regular condoms, rates of slippage and rectal bleeding were slightly higher with the internal condom, but not by much.

Why is the internal condom not as widely used as traditional condoms? Largely, due to homophobia.

The internal condom was originally created and tested on gay men, but couldn’t be approved because of the Food and Drug Administrations’s position in the 1990s that doing so would run counter to sodomy laws. According to the Bay Area Reporter at the time:

“The invention, which was tested on Chicago gay male couples in a 1990 trial, is a wide tube of extremely thin plastic, about three times as big as a conventional condom, with a flexible plastic ring around the closed end. Although the Chicago men expressed a high degree of satisfaction with what was then called the “Aegis,” and evidence showed it was probably safe and effective, the Food and Drug Administration refused in 1992 even to consider it for possible use in preventing HIV transmission during anal sex… A spokeswoman at Female Health Company (FHC), which manufactures Reality/Aegis, told the Bay Area Reporter that FHC President Mary Ann Lieper was explicitly told at an FDA obstetrics/gynecology department Device and Diagnostics panel meeting, ‘Because sodomy is illegal in many states, we cannot support a male condom.'”

The FDA’s position has not yet changed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use the internal condom anyway. It’s an effective tool for anyone to use to prevent sexually transmitted infections and HIV.

Notes and Citations:

(Safety and Acceptability of the Reality™ Condom for Anal Sex Among Men Who Have Sex with Men AIDS (03.28.03) Vol. 17; No. 5: P. 727-731; Cristina Renzi; Stephen R. Tabet; Jason A. Stucky; Niles Eaton; Anne S. Coletti; Christina M. Surawicz; S. Nicholas Agoff; Patrick J. Heagerty; Michael Gross; Connie L. Celum – Monday, April 21, 2003)

“‘Female Condoms’ for Male-Male Sex: FDA DENIES REALITY TO GAYS” Mark Salinas, Bay Area Reporter, Feb 29, 1996.

Note: The Aegis Barrier Pouch was not FDA approved for distribution as an anal condom.

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