The Female Condom
For years, if you wanted reliable STD and pregnancy protection, you usually relied on the male condom. While it is fairly effective, these condoms do have some disadvantages. That’s why it’s great that there are now other options, including the female condom.
A female condom is actually similar to a male condom, in that it is a barrier that protects against pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted infections. Unlike the male condom, however, the female condom is inserted into the vagina before intercourse. It looks a bit like a larger condom with a ring on the end, to hold part of it outside the vagina, and another ring that forms it into the shape of a cylinder. This second ring helps hold the condom in place during sex.
One big advantage of the female condom is that it can be inserted prior to sex. This way, you don’t have to stop in the middle of everything to put it in. You can insert the condom prior to sex play, or you can even make the insertion part of your foreplay.
Many people are wary of using female condoms because there is a different feel to them; however, one of the biggest advantages is that they don’t decrease male sensitivity like male condoms can, which makes most men less hesitant about using them.
Everyone knows that male condoms are effective at reducing the spread of certain STDs like HIV, but what most people don’t realize is that they are fairly ineffective at preventing the spread of STDs transmitted through mucous membranes, like herpes and HPV. While nothing is 100% effective, female condoms are more effective at preventing the spread of these diseases than other methods because they cover a larger area. Plus, they are also an effective way of preventing HIV and other diseases that male condoms also protect against.
Probably the biggest reason female condoms haven’t caught on very quickly is the cost. They are normally priced at about 2 to 3 times as much as normal male condoms; however, if you are using the non-latex versions, they can usually be washed, re-lubricated, and reused. You need to be careful if you decide to do this, however, because it does reduce the effectiveness slightly. Never reuse a condom that has any sort of rip or other damage.
There is some debate as to whether or not female condoms are as effective as their male counterparts. When these products were first put on the market, lab tests showed them to be as effective at preventing pregnancy, but actual results were quite a bit lower. Researchers assumed that this was because women were not inserting and using the condoms properly. It is important to speak to your doctor if you want to switch to female condoms but are unsure of the proper techniques.
Another concern many couples have about using female condoms is the sound and feel. These condoms can create a crinkling sound during sex because they do not fix tightly like male versions do. While you will need to get used to these small differences, many companies now make female condoms out of different materials making this less of a problem. There is also now a latex version you can use.
While they take some getting used to, the female condom is a safe and effective way to help prevent pregnancy and the spread of STDs.