Family planning is an important task for both women and men to become involved with. Not only can proper family planning prevent unplanned pregnancies, but it can also help to reduce the chances of transmitting an STD, such as syphilis or gonorrhea. One of the newest methods of birth control available on the market is the female condom. The female condom was designed as an alternative to the male condom and is available without a prescription throughout the United Kingdom as well as North America.
What is the Female Condom?
The female condom is a type of condom that is worn by a woman during sexual intercourse. Made out of polyurethane, the female condom is designed as a long tube, with one open end and one closed end. It is inserted into the vagina and held in place over the cervix with the help of a flexible plastic ring.
Approximately 17 centimeters in length, the female condom can appear quite daunting to some women upon their initial use. However, with continued use, the female condom can become easy to manage and provides couples with excellent protection against STDs and unplanned pregnancies.
How Does it Work?
The female condom is designed to help reduce the risk of STD transmission and unplanned pregnancy. Because it is made out of polyurethane, the female condom provides a protective barrier against bodily fluids, including semen, saliva, and blood. This makes it effective during both vaginal and oral intercourse. The female condom also works to collect semen before, during, and after ejaculation, helping to protect effectively against pregnancy. When paired with spermicide, the female condom can become even more effective.
Is the Female Condom Effective?
The female condom is designed to provide effective protection against both pregnancy and STD transmission. When used consistently and properly, the female condom is more than 95% effective against unplanned pregnancy. However, with typical use, the failure rate for the female condom is much higher, with about 20 women out of 100 becoming pregnant every year.
In order to increase the effectiveness of the female condom, it is important to use it correctly every time that you have sexual intercourse. Additionally, ensure that the condom isn’t ripped or torn, and that it is paired with an effective spermicide.
How To Use the Female Condom?
The female condom can be difficult for women to learn to insert. It is important to stay relaxed and apply extra lubrication to the condom before insertion. Be careful not to rip or tear the condom with your fingernails while inserting it.
To insert the condom, hold it by the closed end, allowing the open end to hang down. Squeeze the plastic ring at the closed end, so that it becomes long and narrow. Insert this squeezed ring into your vagina. Push the ring towards your cervix, as far as it will go. The open end of the condom should hang out of your vagina by about one inch. Your partner’s penis will be placed inside of this ring and into the condom during intercourse.
To remove the condom, gently twist the open end of the condom, clockwise. This will help to seal in any semen and other bodily fluids. Gently pull on the condom until it is entirely removed. Dispose of the condom by wrapping it in its packaging or inside of a tissue. Do not flush the condom down the toilet.
Who Can Use the Female Condom?
A variety of different groups of women can use the female condom safely, including:
- women who have just given birth
- women who are menstruating
- couples who can’t use a male condom
- women who are allergic to latex
Advantages of the Female Condom
The female condom offers a number of advantages for sexually active men and women:
- By using the female condom women can take responsibility for their own sexual health.
- Should your partner refuse to wear a male condom, you can wear the female condom.
- The female condom does not lessen female or male sensation during sexual intercourse.
- The condom can be inserted up to eight hours before intercourse.
- The outer ring of the female condom can sometimes provide clitoral stimulation for the woman.
- It does not need to be removed immediately after sexual intercourse.
- Men and women who are allergic to latex can use the female condom without irriation.
Disadvantages of the Female Condom
Unfortunately, there are a few disadvantages to the female condom:
- The condom can be difficult for women to insert and remove.
- The female condom can make noises during intercourse (add lubrication if this happens and makes you uncomfortable).
- The condom is noticeable from outside of the body, which can bother some men and women.
- The female condom is more expensive than the male condom, and can be more difficult to find.
- The condom can rip, increasingly the likelihood of pregnancy or STD infection.
Where Can You Find the Female Condom?
The female condom is available without a prescription from most local chemists, pharmacies and drugstores. Additionally, you can find female condoms at your local family planning or woman’s health centre. Female condoms generally cost around ₤1 per condom. It is not recommended that women reuse individual condoms, so make sure that you buy enough condoms to ensure safe sexual intercourse.