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female condom

The female condom is a pouch made of plastic.

Female Condoms

FC & FC2 Female Condom: Reality

What is a female condom?

Female condoms like male condoms are used to prevent pregnancy by providing a barrier between partners. Unlike male condoms, female condoms also protect against transfer of blood or saliva. They can also be worn for up to eight hours prior to intercourse and are available over-the-counter in most drugstores. The female condom is a thin, soft, loose-fitting polyurethane plastic pouch that lines the vagina. It has two flexible rings: an inner ring at the closed end, used to insert the device inside the vagina and to hold it in place, and an outer ring which remains outside the vagina and covers the external genitalia. Because the device is made from polyurethane, the female condom can be used with any type of lubricant without compromising the integrity of the device.

How does a female condom work?

The female condoms are worn inside the vagina. They capture semen that is released. Unlike the cervical cap or contraceptive sponge, the female condoms can be used during menstrual cycles because it will temporarily hold back the flow of blood. After use there may be a slight increase in blood flow that is only temporary. No female condom on the market is treated with spermicide.


Annual Failure Rate

How effective are female condoms?

Female condoms have a typical failure rate of 21% over one year. This means that each year one in five users will experience a surprise pregnancy. The failure rate is much higher than other similar methods, like male condoms, the diaphragm, sponge, and cervical cap. Because it is a newer method, there are not yet any studies available comparing the effectiveness rates between married and single people. Although the failure rate for perfect users is thought to be 5%, future studies may determine that this method is less effective than currently reported by the manufacturers.

Side-effects and health risks for the female condom:

There are no reported side-effects for the female condom. Because it is made polyurethane plastic it does not have the allergic reaction that latex does. The female condom is the only barrier method for women that does not require spermicide, which can also cause an allergic reaction. There are also no known long or short term health risks. The only problem that has been found is that female condom can slip inside the vagina causing semen to be released into the vagina. Some women may find the outer ring cumbersome or uncomfortable.

Considerations for Christians about the female condom:

Some Christians may object to female condoms because they are promoted as a way to empower single women have sex without the risk of sexually transmitted disease when their partner refuses a male condom. Although female condoms can help prevent pregnancy and STDs, they are not extremely effective. Abstinence is more effective than female condoms when people are in an unmarried relationship that will put them at higher risk for STDs.

Like male condoms, female condoms are considered artificial contraception, and as such are not permissible for use by Roman Catholics. Most Protestant denominations, however, have no objections to using female condoms within marriage.

Related Links

Source: Hatcher et al, Contraceptive Technology, Ardent Media, 2005.

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