Female condoms are powerful tools for pleasure and prevention. People of all genders who engage in receptive sex—vaginal and anal–need a range of options that enable protection of their overall sexual health. The female condom helps to meet that need for women and men. Here are a few reasons why female condoms matter.
More Options to Prevent HIV, STIs, and Unplanned Pregnancy are Needed
People need a range of HIV and STI prevention and contraception options to meet diverse needs and situations at different points in their lives. Though the fields of anti-retroviral based HIV prevention and long-acting contraceptives are making gains, there is still no multi-purpose prevention technology beyond male and female condoms that protects women against HIV, STIs, and unplanned pregnancy. Additionally, women and men who engage in receptive sex—vaginal and/or anal—have limited options to protect themselves. The field of female condom products is expanding and now includes the FC2, the Woman’s Condom, and the Cupid. The FC2 remains the only female condom approved in the U.S. and the Woman’s Condom and the Cupid are only available in select countries.
Female condoms offer women and girls a highly effective way to simultaneously reduce their risk of unplanned pregnancy, HIV, and STIs. They are currently the only tool that fills this need. For women who cannot or do not want to use hormonal contraception, female condoms can be an important option because they are non-hormonal.
The FC2 also serves as a useful risk reduction tool for people engaging in anal sex. It is the only condom a receptive anal intercourse partner can initiate. Despite being called a “female” condom, the FC2 offers gay men and other men who have sex with men increased ability to take control of their own health when having receptive anal intercourse. A number of organizations and health departments have materials and messaging focused on FC2 use among gay men and other men who have sex with men.
Female Condoms are Effective Prevention and Empowerment Tools
Female condoms are the only woman-initiated method available today that offers dual protection from unintended pregnancy and STIs, including HIV. The ability of receptive partners of all genders to initiate condom use is particularly important in situations where they cannot negotiate male condom use. No longer must the decision around safer sex rest with just one person.
Research shows that female condoms contribute to higher rates of protected sex when they are promoted alongside male condoms. Data also show that female condoms are comparable to male condoms in preventing STIs and pregnancy. Because female condoms cover more of the external genitalia, they also offer increased protection against STIs that are transmitted skin-to-skin. In addition to being effective contraceptive and STI/HIV prevention tools, female condoms can be cost effective when offered as part of a well-planned STI and pregnancy prevention program. Mathematical modeling conducted in South Africa, Brazil, and the United States comparing the costs of female condom programming to the costs of HIV treatment have shown that female condom distribution can lead to substantial cost savings to the health sector.
Female Condoms Can Increase Pleasure
Female condoms can increase pleasure for both partners due to the heat-transmitting material, stimulation from the ring, wider size, and looser fit. The material adjusts to body temperature during sex, creating a natural and intimate feel. Pre-lubricated female condoms offer women a solution to vaginal dryness and a way to increase their pleasure. Unlike male condoms, female condoms are not erection dependent enabling couples to remain close after climax and enjoy greater intimacy. This feature also makes it possible for female condoms to be inserted before sex allowing a couple to stay in the moment.