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How to use the female condom

Last updated on: September 19, 2011 18:42 IST

How to use the female condom

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Healthcaremagic.com

Inability to persuade the male partner to use a condom exposes thousands of women to HIV/AIDS, other sexually transmitted diseases, and unintended pregnancy every year. Female condoms are a safe and effective method that can enable these women to protect themselves.

Just like the male condom, the female condom is a sheath lining the vagina that needs to be worn by a woman during intercourse.

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Courtesy: Healthcaremagic.com


Image: How to wear a female condom

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How to use the female condom

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FC1: First-generation female condom

A female condom called FC1, manufactured by the Female Health Company (FHC), was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1993. Since then, the condom has been distributed across 142 countries and surveys show that it is well accepted by both men and women. It has different brand names in different countries including Reality, Femidom, Dominique, Femy, Myfemy, Protectiv' and Care.
 
FC1 is a 17 cm (6.5 inches) pouch made of polyurethane and has a flexible ring at both ends. The ring at closed end is inserted into the vagina to hold the condom in place.

The ring at the open stays outside at the entrance to the vagina. The condom is coated on the inside with a silicone-based lubricant.
 
However, the cost of FC1 has prohibited its widespread use. While male condoms cost as little as 50 cents each, FC1 costs around $2.80 to $4 a piece in the US market.

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How to use the female condom

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FC2: Second-generation female condom

In 2005, the manufacturers of FC1 came up with a new lower-cost, second-generation female condom called FC2. It was soon approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) for purchase and distribution by UN agencies in global HIV/AIDS programmes. Recently, FC2 was also approved by the US FDA for marketing in the US.
 
FC2 is less expensive than FC1 because it is made from a nitrile polymer using a highly automated process whereas FC1 is made from polyurethane in a labour-intensive manufacturing process.
 
FC2 has already been approved by the European Union and agencies in India and Brazil.
 
Another feature that may make FC2 more popular than its first-generation version is that it is made of a softer material and does not make a snapping-popping sound when worn.

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How to use the female condom

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The VA female condom

Another type of female condom called the VA female condom or VA w.o.w. Condom Feminine is made of latex, a material commonly used for making male condoms.
 
Non-stretched VA condom is only 9 cm (3.5 inches) long. It has a rounded triangular frame at the open end and a sponge inside the closed end, which helps to keep it in place inside the vagina. Since it is made of latex, it should not be used with oil-based lubricants.
 
VA condom is available under HIV/AIDS prevention programmes in South Africa since 2004. It is also available in Brazil, Indonesia and Portugal. It has already received marketing authorisation in Europe and is expected to be more widely available in shops and clinics.

The manufacturers of VA also plan to get the product approved for sale in the USA.

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How to use the female condom

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How to use the female condom?

  • You can insert the female condom in any position that you find comfortable such as squatting, lying down, or sitting.
  • Make sure the condom is well-lubricated.
  • For inserting FC1/FC2, hold the condom with the open end hanging down. Squeeze the inner ring with thumb and middle finger so that it becomes long and narrow, and gently insert it into your vagina. Put your index finger into the condom and push the inner ring up as far as it goes. The outer ring should remain outside the vagina.
  • Guide the penis into the condom making sure that it does not slip into the vagina outside the condom.
  • Your male partner need not wear a condom if you are using a female condom. The friction between the two condoms may cause the condoms to break.
  • Remove the condom by twisting the outer ring gently and pulling the condom out with the semen inside.
  • Some women initially find it difficult to insert the female condom but it becomes easier with practice.

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How to use the female condom

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Current availability of female condoms

  • The female condom is widely available in government or UN sponsored HIV/AIDS prevention programmes
  • It is available for purchase in a limited number of countries
  • It is relatively popular in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Brazil
  • As per latest figures available, maximum usage was in Africa, followed by North America and Europe. They were hardly sold in Asia though use in India was reported to be growing

Overall, female condoms still constitute a very small percentage of total global condom use. Nonetheless, they have a unique advantage as they are the only woman-controlled method of STD prevention.

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How to use the female condom

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Some drawbacks of the female condom:

  • Higher cost than the male condom
  • Not as widely available as male condom
  • Some women are not comfortable with the outer ring being visible outside the vagina
  • FC condoms produce a sound during sex, though it can be avoided with adequate lubrication
  • Some women find the female condom hard to insert and to remove
  • Higher failure as a contraceptive compared to non-barrier methods such as the pill

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How to use the female condom

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Is it ok the use a female condom for anal sex?
 
It's better to avoid the female condom for anal sex as insertion is painful and it can cause rectal bleeding. The male condom with lot of lubrication is a better option. Do not use condoms containing Nonoxynol for anal sex.


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