Many women in Africa, if not majority, have never heard abut female condoms. Majority have heard or in one occasion or another with their male counterparts have used male condoms. But that does not mean that there are no condoms for women. It is simply not yet popular. That is about to change. Women could with their own condom, be more in charge of their safety, than leave it in the hands of men.
As the world marked the fourth annual Global Female Condom Day on September 16, 2015, more facts emerged as to why the female condom is yet to gain popularity comparable to the long existing male condom.
With the theme “Dance4Demand” as coined by the Global Female Condom Coalition, the day was marked by dancing to call for and creation of awareness for the demand of female condoms.
To date, the global distribution of female condoms is still far less than that of male condoms as the former remains a less popular, with only 13 percent of persons having heard of the female condom, and much fewer having ever used one.
Since it was approved by the FDA in 1993, the female condom has slowly grown in popularity but continues to lag behind its male version in terms of acceptance.
A variation of the male condom, the female condom has many of the same attributes and advantages the male condom is famous for.
Essentially, female condoms are sheaths, or linings that fit loosely inside a woman’s vagina made of thin, transparent, soft plastic. They work by forming a barrier that keeps sperm out to prevent pregnancy. They also keep infections from infecting one or the other partner.
They have flexible rings at both ends. One ring at the closed end helps to insert the condom. The ring at the open end holds part of the condom outside the vagina. The condom is lubricated on the inside and on the outside.
Made for women
According to findings, although female condoms play a vital role in improving reproductive health, and are the only method designed to offer woman dual protection from pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, the average woman still prefers the far more simplistic but relatively more efficacious male condom.
Although simple to use, a number of women find the female condom irritating to insert and bothersome during sex. But experts say through practice and experience, such concerns soon disappear.
Several women told Health & Living that male condoms give superioir sensation of pleasure than female condoms, in addition to enabling a more tension-free intercourse.
On the average, women describe female condom as “intrusive” and “difficult to use”, arguing that correct use needs to be learned before use.”
You need to put it on long before intercourse, and that could be a big turn-off,” a young woman related. Others said the female condom is noisy, messy, more expensive and less convenient to use than the male condom.
But in its favour, the experts say if correctly used during every act of sexual intercourse, in the course of a year, the female condom could be up to 95 percent effective in preventing pregnancy and in reducing the risk of sexually transmitted infections.
Nevertheless, quite a number of women (and men) prefer male condoms to female condoms, even though the female condom is more practical and empowering for the woman. With the female condom, women can initiate their use, they can be inserted ahead of time and so do not interrupt sexual intercourse, and the outer ring provides added sexual stimulation for some women.
Additionally, female condoms have a soft moist texture that feels more natural than male latex condoms. For men, unlike male condoms, they are not constricting, they do not dull the sensation of sex, and they do not have to be removed immediately after ejaculation.
Like the male condom, the female condom is very effective when used correctly and consistently. Experts say female condoms are 79 to 95 percent effective in preventing pregnancy, only slightly less effective than male condoms.
On the whole, findings reveal that the female condom has similar benefits as the male condom, including convenience, affordability, STD protection, and lack of side effects. One potential benefit of the female condom compared to the male version is that women can take independent, more active responsibility in preventing pregnancy