Female condom gets a redesign

Filed under: Health & Safety: Babies, In The News, Sex

When the female condom was introduced in the late 1990's, it didn't go over so well. Women talk about these things and I have never known one single person who ever tried one. Apparently, there was a "yuck factor" with couples finding them awkward, unsightly, noisy and slippery.

So now scientists are giving it another go, redesigning the female condom to be softer, thinner and easier to insert. I won't go into all the specifics, but if you are interested in knowing just how wonderful the new female condom is, you can read all about it here.

Even if the newly designed condom were a hit with women, there is still a drawback that cannot be fixed: you can't use it in secret. Apparently, this flaw is a deal-breaker those who could benefit the most from using a female condom - married women in poor countries. According to Lois Chingandu, the director of SAfaids in Zimbabwe, condoms are rarely discussed within a marriage in Africa. "It is something associated with casual sex. If a wife uses a condom, the message is that you have been unfaithful. If she even initiates the discussion, it tips the power scale. Men resist quite a lot, and it can result in violence," she says.

But that isn't the only hurdle preventing the redesigned female condom from appearing on a drug store shelf near you. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration classifies female condoms as a Class 3 medical device, the same category as pacemakers, heart valves and silicone breast implants. That means that unlike Class 2 male condoms, which can be approved after passing tests for leakage and bursting, the female condom must pass clinical trials that can cost from $3 million to $6 million.

If the female condom ever does come to market, I still wonder how many women would use them. Even with the redesign they sound kind of awful

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.