Pros and Cons of the Female Condom
What Is the Female Condom?
Also known as the FC or the FC2, the female condom is worn by the woman during sex, and lines the vagina with a thin sheath. The female condom is beneficial in preventing sexually transmitted diseases, while also preventing unwanted pregnancy. The United States Food and Drug Administration approved the FC for use in 1993, although it was available in Europe a full year earlier. The female condom is a little more than six inches in length, with a flexible ring at both ends.
FC and FC2
One of the ends is completely closed, and this is the end which is placed inside the vagina and holds the FC in place. The ring on the other end stays outside the vaginal entrance and serves as a sort of guide during sexual activity. The ring on the outside theoretically prevents the sheath from becoming bunched up inside the vagina. The FC and FC2 come with a kind of lubricant on the inside, however there is no spermicide. The FC2 was made by the same manufacturers as the FC, and although it has essentially the same design, it is made of nitrile and was FDA approved in 2008.
There is another type of female condom known as the VA w.o.w., however it has not yet gained FDA approval in the United States. The VA recently became available in Brazil, Indonesia and in some clinics in Portugal, and has been available in South Africa since 2004. The VA is made of latex, however its design is much shorter than the FC-only a bit longer than 3" however it is much more elastic and has a sponge in the closed end which effectively anchors it inside the vagina.
Benefits of FC
If women choose to share the typically male condom responsibility with their partners, the FC could be a good choice, or should a woman's partner refuse to wear condoms, the FC might be a good alternative. The FC promotes spontaneity, as it can be inserted up to eight hours prior to intercourse, and protects against the majority of STD's as well as pregnancy when used properly. The nitrile which makes up the FC and FC2 is less likely to cause allergies than the latex used in the VA. Nitrile also is very thin and conducts heat efficiently.
Disadvantages of FC
Some women can feel self-conscious by the outer ring of the FC which is visible, and others may find it difficult to insert and remove. Both the FC and the FC2 tend to make noises during intercourse which some women may find embarrassing, although adding extra lubricant can lessen this effect. The FC is somewhat expensive, and not as easy to buy or to find as the regular male condom. The FC is designed to be used only one time.
The female condom may feel awkward and unfamiliar when you first use it, and there are some women who find it extremely hard to insert, although with practice it becomes easier and feels more natural.