Did anyone else notice that Tuesday was Global Female Condom Day? I thought not. Despite the best efforts of reproductive health experts and AIDS activists, the female condom remains the ugly stepchild of the prophylactic family.
It’s a pity though. Female condoms are a useful addition to the range of options available to help prevent pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV.
The female condom also empowers women to initiate condom use and so take control of their own sexual and reproductive health. It is the only woman-initiated, non-hormonal birth control available, and yet, despite being on the market for over 20 years now, they’re still hard to come by. (When last did you spot a femidom at Clicks or your local clinic?)
Here are three reasons why the female condom deserves to be given the old college try – that is, if you can find any.
Unlike male condoms, there isn’t just one type. The most common type is called the FC2. Made out of nitrile, which is a synthetic latex, it has outer and inner rings to keep it in place. But there are three vastly different versions as well. The Cupid has an octagonal outer ring and an internal sponge to keep it in place. The PATH Womans Condom meanwhile resembles a condom with a tampon-shaped capsule on the end. The capsule is inserted and dissolves when it comes into contact with fluid; this releases the pouch. Finally, the VA w.o.w. female condom has a triangular outer ring and a polyurethane sponge to keep it from moving around during sex.
Each type feels slightly different when used, so you and your partner have a range of options to choose from.
Female condoms don’t depend on the male erection and can be inserted up to eight hours before sex actually happens; so you don’t have to break the mood to take care of protection. Also, unlike male condoms, they don’t stretched tightly over the penis, making them more natural feeling and less likely to break.
3. Bonus features
Femidoms are usually made from polyurethane or nitrile which make them strong, durable and suitable for people with latex allergies. Their design, which always features an outer ring, also allows for the area outside the vagina to be covered, reducing the transmission rate of STIs.
So there you have it. Next time you spot a bowl of female condoms at the clinic, why not show it some love?
– All images via Condoms4all.org