Even though female condoms have been around for nearly 30 years I would make a bet that you’ve never seen one in person. Blame it on poor marketing or their lack of availability as compared to the male condom, but one HUGE reason they tend to be harder to find than Carmen Sandiego is due to the incessant misinformation floating around and perpetuated by (of all places) Jezebel. This stunningly, shortsighted article did nothing but carry on the tradition of blasting female condoms because of the privileged point of view, “It just puts the onus completely on women when it comes to safe sex” and the never-welcome, disdainful judgment of “ew.”
Aside from male condoms, women bear the brunt of pregnancy prevention. (Damn you, male hormonal contraception! When will you be on the market?!) I agree that men should take responsibility and action in preventing pregnancy and STDs, but unfortunately I live on this place called Earth and have witnessed many situations where that doesn’t end up being a reality.
A female condom (also known as an internal condom) offers a woman the ability to take agency over her sexual health. The Jezebel article cites the UN Population Fund’s donation to make female condoms readily available for free in South Africa. Now, let’s put on our thinking caps and attempt to figure out why that may be a good idea.
Think… Think… I’ll just Google it.
Perhaps, this is due to the fact that it is estimated that almost 1 in 5 South African’s, age 15 and up, have HIV and that 3,600 incidents of rape occur in South Africa every day. A female condom provides a sexual parachute for women who regularly face the threat of rape or sexual assault by someone who may have a life-threatening STD. That’s just one horrible example, but what about the woman who is with a man who refuses to wear a male condom, or someone who is a sex worker, or a woman who is too embarrassed to talk about condoms with her partner, or that type A woman who wants to be totally sure she’s not going to wake up with Chlamydia and just wants to be in control of it? (That last one is me.)
Condoms are the only way to prevent STDs during intercourse, and a female condom is the only device a woman can use to take control of her own STD and pregnancy prevention. And there are some pretty cool, not “ew,” reasons why you might want to try one:
- Preference. Some men and women experience more pleasure while using the female condom. The outer ring can stimulate the clitoris and men have said that the sensation during sex with a female condom is more similar to unprotected sex. Hot, right?
- Easy peasy over the counter availability.
- No worries of having a condom that is too small, too big or too tight. It’s just one perfect size that won’t cause your partner to feel any discomfort.
- Someone can insert the female condom up to 8 hours before intercourse, which can eliminate the need to drunkenly fumble around with a male condom while simultaneously trying to unbutton, like, what 4,000 buttons on this shirt? Did you get this at the hardest shirt to take off store?
- It’s great for anal sex after the inner ring has been removed.
- Provides more protection against skin to skin contact than the male condom. The outer ring sits outside of the vagina or anus; therefore it may help prevent the transmission of HPV and herpes in addition to all the other unsavory infections.
- No latex! Unlike most male condoms the female condom is now made of a material that does not cause horrible allergic reactions for couples with latex allergies. No more guessing and waking up with a horrible painfully rashy vagina! Hip hip!
- May be used with water-based or oil-based lube.
- Even if a man loses his erection during or after sex, he won’t have to immediately pull out or put on a new condom.
I know you’re all rushing to try them out so to let you in on the secret, the FC2 (the brand name of the female condom) is available at Walgreens or CVS and you can definitely purchase them online. They are slightly more expensive than the male condom, but if you can afford it, I recommend giving it a try. You never know what may work best for you or your situation and having more choices as far as protection goes is always positive. For more information on the FC2 and how to use it, check out Bedsider.
Have you ever used a female condom? What were your thoughts/feelings/opinions? Share your story so others can make an informed decision on whether this is right for them.
Image via Ceridwen.
Edited to clarify that the female condom covers more genital area than the male condom and may better protect against skin-to-skin transmitted infections.
Brynne would be a Certified Sex Geek if such a thing existed. Instead, she is a sex educator with 5 years of research, classroom teaching, family planning, training and condom balloon making experience under her belt. She likes telling people about the time she publicly sprayed spermicide in her face and showing off how she can make an opera glove out of a condom. You can follow her @miss_sex_ed and ask her questions
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