Female Condoms – Has Their Time Come?

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Approved by the FDA in 1993, the female condom has never really been promoted. Will it catch on as a safer sex alternative for US women?

condom_car

Photo: Ruth Temple (RuTemple on Flickr)

They come in all shapes and sizes.

Female condoms have been promoted in the developing world for pregnancy prevention and HIV prevention for years.  One of the reasons was that health workers felt that men were not always willing to use condoms, or to talk about birth control at all.  This woman-centered method gives women control and a viable option for protection against pregnancy, and more reliable HIV protection, since the condom itself covers more of the vagina and vulva

Now, FC2, the second generation female condom, is being distributed, free of charge, to women in Chicago,NYC and Washington, DC – areas where women are at higher risk for HIV.  Not everyone is too crazy about it – it looks like an extra-wide condom – but the big surprise is that, for some women, it may enhance pleasure.  The material is soft and warms up easily, and the rolled-up soft outer edge of the condom is outside of the vagina, strategically placed in clitoral closeness.   Maybe this is the key to acceptance of a new safer sex method?

This newer version of the female condom is made of nitrile, a real plus for some people who may have latex allergies; it can be used for anal, as well as vaginal sex; it doesn’t squeak or make noise during intercourse; and because it’s made to fit into a vagina, men can’t complain of constriction or non-fitting condoms

The FC2 may be coming to your town in the future, but right now, only you lucky ladies in Washington, DC can walk into a CVS pharmacies and find them.  Possibly.   There are free-distribution community intiatives in Chicago, New York and DC for women considered at higher risk for HIV.   In Chicago they call it “put a ring on it.” Great campaign!

If you do try them, let us know what you think.

Jennifer Bass (M.P.H.)

is Director of Communications at The Kinsey Institute and founder of Kinsey Institute Sexuality Information Service for Students, now Kinsey Confidential.
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Comments

  • akajeff

    So why market this as only a “female” condom?!
    Why not just market it as another type of condom which can then easily be marketed to Gay men too? The common complaints about using condoms among men are NOT EXCLUSIVE to Straight men! Gay men have just as much aversion to using condoms regularly as any other man. This condom, the so-called FC2, looks like it might work just as well, for similar reasons, for Gay men. Don't leave us out.

  • rhabdoviridae

    Personally, I hate the female condom. It feels like I tried to shove a trashbag in my vagina or something.