Embarking on the Female Condom Adventure: Yes or No?

Published on The Daily Femme – Thursday, Nov. 18, 2010

Contributed by Annamarya

Early this week I paid a visit to the ob/gyn at my neighborhood clinic and I didn’t know what to expect. The last two lady-parts doctors I’ve had the displeasure of encountering were rude beyond belief – it seemed offering degrading comments about my weight and body scars while I lied naked waist-deep and vulnerable on a reclining slab was just the nature of their business. But this new doctor was nothing if not insightful, friendly, informative and receptive to my awkwardly candid brand of comedy, so I’m pretty sure she’s gonna stick.

What I enjoyed most about my visit was that she took the extra step to offer me a contraceptive method other doctors have neglected to dispense – the female condom. At the clinic, it is routine at the end of your appointment for the ob/gyn to hand you a discreet sack of sexual supplies: latex condoms, condom use pamphlet and morning after pills. Sure, it’s an invaluable starter tool kit for the sexually active female but, when considering the contraceptives and education that exists beyond male condoms, sending a patient off with a brown paper bag of drug store goodies is a sort-of half-ass attempt at promoting safe sex and the prevention of unwanted pregnancy and STIs. It’s like giving your kid oil, vegetables and a frying pan and telling them to do something with it, even though you’ve never taught him how to cook.

That’s why I was ecstatic when my doctor asked if I ever used the female condom and if I wanted to try it. Finally, a doctor willing to go beyond the typical in sex education and health.  The only thing is, though, I’ve never used it in my 12+ sexually active years and now that I’m armed with three of these vaginal sheaths, I’m hesitant to use them. I’ve read up on its pros and cons – they’re effective at preventing STIs, risk of pregnancy is lower than minimal, they’re latex-free, they may enhance sex play, they can cause irritation or slip into the vagina (eeks!), and can be used for anal sex (yahooza!)– but its foreign nature is a bit off-putting. And, sadly, it’s not a very popular prophylatic, either – according to the Center for Disease Control, only 1.9 percent of  women ages 18 – 55 used the female condom as of 2008, which is something the Washington DC Department of Heath is trying to change in their city. This past March, with a $500,000 grant from MAC AIDS Fund, the department launched the DC’s Doin It campaign to promote and distribute female condoms, and, by extension, advocate positive sexual health and empowerment among women.

So, ladies, what do you think? Should I embark on the female condom adventure or is it something I should stay away from? What are your FC stories?

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