Female Condoms vs Male Condoms

Condoms are the most recommended form of contraception. They provide protection from unwanted pregnancies, STDs and the life-taking AIDS virus. A great number of people are infected with this incurable disease and this number is rapidly mounting.

That being said, it is highly recommended that a person take all possible safety measures before engaging in a sexual relationship. Contraceptive methods are long been available and have been reinvented to offer better protection. Despite of availability of many forms of contraception, only two forms have the power to protect people from STDs and its equivalent.

Option #1: Sexual abstinence

Option #2: Condoms

Aside from these two options, no other contraception can provide protection against STDs and AIDS. In today’s modern and daring world, sexual abstinence is almost impossible for couples. Good thing condoms are available to aid in the prevention of unwanted pregnancies as well as to protect people from acquiring sexually transmitted diseases.

Safe Sex: Responsibility of Both Man and Woman Involved
The use of contraception is a decision that should be made by both parties involved. They must choose what birth control method they want to utilize for safe sex. Women, with variety of methods to use for contraception, hold the burden most of the time. Men have only one available birth control method, condoms. Often times, some men are being uncooperative of safe sex efforts as they find it not satisfying to wear a condom typically seen as an obstruction to reach the cloud nine.

The First Female Condom
On April 26, 1993, FDA (Food and Drug Administration) announced their approval of the first female condom, the Reality. It is the first birth control for women that offers protection from STDs. With the approval comes the condition that the condom’s label will underline that for “highly effective protection” against sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS, it is imperative for men to use latex condoms.

The Reality condom is a lubricated sheath of polyurethane with a flexible ring on each end. One ring is inserted into the vagina and serves like a cervical cap while the other polyurethane ring remains outside, covering the vagina. FDA made the decision to approve the female condom based on a study of clinical data presented by Reality’s manufacturer, Wisconsin Pharmacal of Jackson and the unanimous recommendation of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Devices Advisory Panel at its meeting on December 10, 1992.

The New Version of the Original Female Condom
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Female Health Company’s FC2 (Female Condom) on March 9, 2009. The FC2 is made out of nitrile polymer (a synthetic rubber compound) that allows it to be manufactured at a lower cost compared to FC1. FC2 provides the same protection as FC1 and looks very similar to the first version but is less costly because of introduction of new material and manufacturing process.

How Effective Is It?
The effectiveness of the female condom is estimated to be between 75% and 82%. Failure reasons are the same as those for the male condom:

The female condom may have a rip or tear (can be obtained before or during sexual intercourse)
It may slip out of the vagina during intercourse
Spilling of semen from the condom while taking it out
Seldom manufacturing defects

Do Women Like the Female Condom?
In studies over six years among diverse culture and population, many women liked the female condom and would suggest it to others. Few complaints about insertion are reported and some women said that it took them more than one try to get used to placing the condom in. The two most common complaints were not liking the inner ring and the movement of the female condom during intercourse.

How well do Male Partners Like Female Condoms?
According to a 2000 Reproductive Health Research of the World Health Organization (WHO), men have responded favorably to the female condom because it does not interfere with sexual spontaneity. Meanwhile, a study conducted by FHI 360, a nonprofit human development organization, says that women like and accept the female condom more positively than men did.

Female Condom Advantages
It can be used during menstruation, pregnancy or even after child birth
It is female-controlled, a woman can protect herself from unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases without relying on male condom
It offers greater genital area protection than a male condom
The female condom can be inserted up to 8 (eight) hours before the intercourse as to not interfere with the love making
It is more comfortable to men as there is less decrease in sensation than with a latex condom
Female condoms are stronger than male condoms (polyurethane is 40% stronger than latex)

Female Condom Disadvantages
Insertion or removal difficulties
It may reduce clitoral stimulation resulting to less pleasurable sex
Uncomfortable intercourse due to lubrication issues (using provided lubricant may solve problem)
The female condom may create noise if not lubricated properly
Female condoms are costly compared to male condoms and are not available in as many locations
Where to Buy
Like male condoms, female condoms can be purchased without prescription. You can buy female condoms at drugstores and they are also available at most STDs clinics or family planning centers.

Cost of a Female Condom
A female condom costs about $2-4 but its cost varies from places to places.

The female condom should only be used once. It should not be used by people who are allergic or sensitive to polyurethane or silicon. This device cannot be placed if a woman has a tampon inserted.

It may be used with any other non-barrier form of contraception such as oral contraceptives and spermicidal cream. However, do not use it with male latex condom as friction between the two may cause breakage or displacement.

Who Should Use It
Women who have recently given birth or undergone a termination of pregnancy should use a female condom. It is for contraception and protection from STDs. The female condom can also be used by pregnant or menstruating women. This contraceptive method is safe for women of any age as far as she knows how to use it properly and effectively.

The concept and use of the female condom is still strange or even unknown to most couples worldwide. Perceptions concerning the use of this device may become more positive and favorable as there is an increasing need of protection from STDs. Widely used or not, female condoms, indeed, made a huge difference by providing women the option to protect themselves not just from unwanted pregnancy but also from sexually transmitted diseases.