Monday, January 7, 2008

The Female Condom Reconsidered

They've redesigned the female condom in an effort to make it less unsightly, uncomfortable and difficult to use. The old model had a ring on both ends, which gave it all the cervix-pinching, penis-poking pain of a diaphragm. For the full visual impact of just how torturous this device is to insert and wear, check out the directions here. The new, improved model doesn't look much improved except for the fact that they did remove that awful internal ring and make it from softer, thinner material so you don't feel quite as much like you're stuffing a Baggie attached to a Tupperware lid up there. You can see it here.
Pregnancy rates are slightly higher for couples using female condoms than for those using male condoms. Still, being a barrier, it probably does provide some as yet undocumented protection from STDs for women whose partners refuse to take responsibility for such things.
Public health officials were hoping the female condom would help slow the spread of the AIDS epidemic among women in developing countries, but several factors are still working against it, not the least of which is a much higher cost for female condoms than male condoms. The only place they have really seen much use is among prostitutes. It's a start. We're glad to see that at least our sisters who work in the sex industry have another option for protecting themselves, however feeble it may be.

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