- Made of plastic, loose-fitting
- Can be inserted prior to initiating sexual
- Likely prevents transmission of STDs
- May be difficult to learn to insert
- May be expensive
While female condoms have many similarities to male condoms,
they also have some unique features. An important feature of
the female condom is that it provides women with more control
over use than the male condom. Thus, it is an option for women
who want to protect themselves with barrier methods.
As mentioned, the female condom is made of plastic, thus it
is stronger and more durable than the latex condom. It is also
loose-fitting and may be more comfortable for men who object
to the tight-fitting male condom. It can be inserted prior to
the initiation of sexual activities and does not interrupt coitus.
The ability of the female condom to prevent transmission of
HIV and other STDs is promising. Laboratory studies have found
that the female condom is impermeable to various STD organisms,
including HIV. Clinical trials are under way.
The female condom may be difficult to learn to insert for first-time
users. Women should practice insertion before using the method.
Currently, the female condom is only approved for one use for
one act of intercourse. However, because the device is expensive,
studies are under way to determine if it can be rinsed and reused
without losing effectiveness or compromising safety.
In acceptability studies, many women have reported that they
liked the device and would recommend it to others. However,
some women complained that the inner ring caused discomfort
when the penis hit it and that the movement of the device during
intercourse was bothersome. Other women mentioned that the device
was noisy if not lubricated adequately. Men were less enthusiastic
about the device than women.