Female Condoms – What Should You Know About It?
Physical barrier methods are helpful at minimizing the risk of STD transmission while also serving as a cheap, reliable and popular birth control strategy used by masses. Just like male condoms, female condoms are also abundantly available and can be placed inside the vagina as much as eight hour in advance of engaging in sexual activity. Regardless of physical activity, female condom stays in place until removed.
Female condom is designed as a nitrile pouch that comprises of two rings. The end of each ring fits along the inner and outer margins of vagina. The outer ring is comparatively larger and stays outside the vagina to cover the labial lips, while the inner ring is small and acts as a diaphragm to hold the condom in place. Just like male condom, female condom can also be used for anal sex to minimize the risk of contracting infections. Besides serious infections that are transmitted by body secretions, female condoms can also prevent diseases and ailments that spreads through skin-skin contact such as HPV and herpes.
How It Is Used?
First, apply lubricant on the outer side of vagina and squeeze the inner ring. Now insert the inner ring with the pouch along the inner margin of vagina. Push the inner ring as far as possible with your finger. The outer rings stays outside the vagina to ensure easy and quick withdrawal. The process is quite similar to tampon insertion. You can also sit in a comfortable position (or squat) to ensure correct insertion.
When penis enters inside the vagina, make sure the condom doesn’t get pushed aside. After sexual intercourse, remove the condom by twisting the outer ring and pulling out the condom very carefully to avoid spillage of semen.
For anal sex you can place the inner ring inside or keep it out, depending on your comfort level and preferences. Before insertion, the penis or toy should be covered with the condom and insertion should be done slowly. Removal of the condom will be same for both vaginal and anal sex.
Female Condom Vs. Male Condom
These are available in only one size. In addition, female condoms are generally colorless and odorless.
It is available in different sizes, colors, odor and textures to give more freedom and choices to the user.
Female condoms are made up of nitrile.
Male condoms are made up of different materials; such as, lamb skin, latex, polyurethane and polyisoprene.
The effectiveness and safety profile of female condoms is slightly lower than male condoms (i.e. 75% to 82%)
Effectiveness against unwanted pregnancies and STD prevention is up to 97% when used properly on regular basis.
As compared to male condoms, female condoms are not very popular or widely used.
Male condoms are available at various clinics, drug stores and vending machines. In addition, many schools, NGO’s and adolescent centers offer free condoms on request.
Not too effective for prevention of STIs when compared to male condoms
Very effective against STIs as well as HIV/AIDS transmission.
The cost of female condoms range from $2 to $4 (depending upon brand and location of store).
The cost of male condom is very low ($0.4 per condom)
According to a study reported in the Journal of Adolescent Health (3), investigators discovered that although 95% teens have heard about female condoms, yet only 15% have actually used one ever in their life. Most teens showed reluctance when asked if they would use female condoms in future.
Female condoms are ideal for responsible women who are in unsteady relationships. Since these condoms can be worn hours in advance, women generally feel more independent and comfortable. There are some drawbacks of female condom use; such as:
- Irritation or inflammation of vulva, vagina, anus or penis of partner.
- The condom may slip during the intercourse if not inserted correctly.
- Some people may feel that female condoms interferes with the sensation during intercourse.
It is very important to offer female condoms as an additional contraceptive choice to the women instead of offering as a replacement to male condoms.
1. Beksinska, M., Greener, R., Kleinschmidt, I., Pillay, L., Maphumulo, V., & Smit, J. (2015). A randomized noninferiority crossover controlled trial of the functional performance and safety of new female condoms: an evaluation of the Velvet, Cupid2, and FC2. Contraception, 92(3), 261-267.
2. Gallo, M. F., Norris, A. H., & Turner, A. N. (2013). Female condoms: New choices, old questions. The Lancet Global Health, 1(3), e119-e120.
3. Haignere, C. S., Gold, R., Maskovsky, J., Ambrosini, J., Rogers, C. L., & Gollub, E. (2000). High-risk adolescents and female condoms: knowledge, attitudes, and use patterns. Journal of Adolescent Health, 26(6), 392-398.