Partner negotiation and insertion difficulties are key barriers to female condom (FC) use in sub-Saharan Africa. Few FC interventions have provided comprehensive training in both negotiation and insertion skills, or focused on university students. In this study we explored whether training in FC insertion and partner negotiation influenced young women’s FC use. 296 female students at a South African university were randomized to a one-session didactic information-only minimal intervention (n = 149) or a two-session cognitive-behavioral enhanced intervention (n = 147), which received additional information specific to partner negotiation and FC insertion. Both groups received FCs. We report the ‘experiences of’ 39 randomly selected female students who participated in post-intervention qualitative interviews. Two-thirds of women reported FC use. Most women (n = 30/39) applied information learned during the interventions to negotiate with partners. Women reported that FC insertion practice increased their confidence. Twelve women failed to convince male partners to use the FC, often due to its physical attributes or partners’ lack of knowledge about insertion. FC educational and skills training can help facilitate use, improve attitudes toward the device and help women to successfully negotiate safer sex with partners. Innovative strategies and tailored interventions are needed to increase widespread FC adoption.