Your Very Own Condom

The female condom has never really had the popular following of the male condom. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the female condom in 1993 and though it provides similar protection against exposure to semen and essentially serves the same purpose, traditional condoms remain the popular method of protection. Common complaints usually include the cost: a typical female condom purchased from a drug store runs around $2/condom and the distracting plastic-bag-noise that squelches from the product-covered vagina during penetration.

Let’s ignore for a moment the weird sounds and the comparatively high price and focus on the positive. The developer of the female condom, the Female Health Company, is an international non-profit organization dedicated to improving women’s health “by developing innovative, gender-sensitive programs in addressing their [women’s] needs in family planning and STI/HIV/AIDS prevention.” A group creating solutions specific to women and not seeking a profit from public health goods? That alone is reason enough for a second glance.

The first female condom was a polyurethane pouch about six and a half inches long with flexible rings at each end. The company is now seeking approval from the FDA for the new and improved version, the FC2. The FC2 is equivalent in size, shape, and effectiveness to the first female condom, but is made of nitrile (a form of synthetic rubber). Nitrile makes the development and manufacturing process much more cost effective, so using this new material should decrease the price you pay at the drug store. In addition, swapping polyurethane for nitrile should silence the plastic-bag factor.

The female condom is the only female-initiated barrier method that protects against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections and though similar to a male condom, it is unique in a few key aspects. Unlike a latex condom the FC2 is not susceptible to deterioration from heat of humidity so storage becomes less of an issue. A female condom is inserted into a woman’s vagina and covers internal and external genitalia providing broader protection than the male condom. It doesn’t rely on an erect penis and so doesn’t need to be removed immediately after ejaculation. In this sense it can also be inserted before sex, decreasing any interruption in intimacy.

Getting comfortable with and actually using the female condom calls for a little bit of balance, a little bit of practice and a lot of comfortability getting up close and personal with the vagina – all good things in my book. The FC2 isn’t yet available on the market, but maybe when it does break on to the scene it will be the impetus for the female condom’s rise to fame. After all, condoms are the key to safer sex and providing women with more accessible options only increases our odds of engaging in infection-free pleasure and full sexual activity. Sign me up.

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Ms. Skeptical

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