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The Good and Bad about Female Condoms

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There’s a song that Popeye sings on an old cartoon, “I can do anything that you do.” That’s the song that I think of when I hear the word female condom. Men have condoms, now we have them.

My question after learning about this device is to ask, how does it work? Generally speaking, it is a thin sheath worn vaginally by a woman during sex. Once inserted properly, it will act as a lining preventing pregnancy and infections. In other words, the male condom covers the outside of the penis, while the female condom covers the inside of the vagina.

In my research, I found that there are different types depending on the country you live. The female condom that will be alluded to here is called the FC and FC2 female condom, ones approved by the FDA. Now, on how to insert this type of birth control, notice the instructions given by Avert.org:

“Open the package carefully. Choose a position that is comfortable for insertion - squat, raise one leg, sit or lie down. Make sure the condom is lubricated enough. If you are using the FC2 female condom, make sure the inner ring is at the closed end of the sheath, and hold the sheath with the open end hanging down. Squeeze the inner ring with thumb and middle finger (so it becomes long and narrow), and then insert the inner ring and sheath into the vaginal opening. Gently insert the inner ring into the vagina and feel it go up. Place the index finger inside the condom and push the inner ring as far as it will go. Make sure the condom is inserted straight, and is not twisted inside the vagina. The outer ring should remain on the outside of the vagina.”

Are there benefits? Yes. Mainly, the female condom lets the woman take charge of protecting herself, especially since sometimes men would rather not wear one during sex. It does protect against sexually transmitted diseases and can be inserted in advance. Lastly, because the FC and FC2 are made out of the material nitrile, it cannot be damaged by temperature variations or dampness.

And the downside? The outer ring that hangs out of the vagina is a little off-putting to some women. Also, if no lubrication is added, increased noises during sexual activity with this type of birth control have been reported. Further, some do find it hard to put in and take out and depending in which country you live in, it can be costly and hard to find. Lastly, this method does not have as high of a success rate as other methods such as the pill.

The usage of the female condom has been highly used and recommended by such organizations as USAID and UNFPA. Mostly, these types of charitable agencies use them in female HIV prevention initiatives. In 2009 alone, over 40.2 million units sold worldwide. There will be continued campaigns to assist HIV and STD prevention. Even when it comes to rape, a South African doctor, Dr. Sonnet Ehlers, has invented a female condom that “bites.” Its sole design is to fight against rape. The woman inserts this condom vaginally and if a man tries to rape her, rows of “teeth” locks into the penis. Even if he removes his penis from her, it will take a doctor to remove the condom from him. This condom is controversial to say the least. But some would argue doing something is better than doing nothing. What do you think?

The Female Condom. AIDS & HIV Information from AVERT.org. Web. 18 Aug. 2011

Karimi, Faith, and CNN. "South African doctor invents female condoms with 'teeth' to fight rape - CNN." Web. 18 Aug. 2011.

Reviewed August 18, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Jody Smith

Dita Faulkner is a small town girl with a flair for big ideas. Please read her blog at:

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.