The function of the female condom is pretty much the same as the male condom. The female condom like its male counterpart serves to block the ejaculated semen from coming into direct contact with the body of the sexual partner in addition to being a block to sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhea, syphilis and HIV, by completely lining the vagina.

The female condom is a lubricated sheath worn by a female inside her vagina during sex. It has a ring at each end and is made of polyurethane. When the female condom is inserted into the vagina, one of these rings at the closed end of the sheath lies inside the vagina while the other at the open end lies outside the vagina. The female condom provides protection against unwanted pregnancy and reasonable protection against STDs.

With condoms being instinctively associated with the male penis since decades, one might well be at a loss to understand how a female condom can be worn. Well, it can be inserted well before penetration. After finding a comfortable position like squatting with knees apart or lying down with legs bent and knees apart, one can use washed hands to squeeze in the closed ended inner ring with the thumb and middle finger, leaving the open end hanging outside. The index finger can then be used to push up the ring along with the pouch up the vagina till it is past the pelvic bone. After intercourse, the male need not withdraw immediately and once he does withdraw the female condom can be withdrawn after twisting the outer ring gently to retain the sperm inside the pouch. The used female condom can be disposed off by wrapping it in a tissue and throwing it in a waste container. Condoms need not be reused. The method does seem long drawn and complicated, but when it is all about one’s basic instincts, what’s a little pain? When the end of the road is laden with pleasures, then one might well enjoy them with an uncluttered mind which is free from the fear of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

A word of caution goes out to females who could be suffering from polyurethane or silicone allergies or are sensitive to these. As with all barrier contraceptives, water based and silicone based lubricants are preferred to oil based ones. However plastic female condoms have the advantage of being compatible with oil based lubricants as they are not made of latex which breaks down when in contact with oil based lubricants. The efficacy of a female condom providing more protection to the external genitals of the wearer and the base of the penis of the inserting partner is firmly established. Apart from this wearing a female condom does not have the pre requisite of an erect penis.

Introduced about fifteen years ago, the concept of female condom has yet to catch the desired momentum. Although developed countries are actively promoting female condoms to complement already existing family planning and HIV/ AIDS programs, the high cost of female condoms is proving to be a deterrent in popularizing their use. Female condoms are stated to be 2 to 3 times the cost of male condoms. Also, inserting the female condom requires skill which only comes with practice. Some have also been stated to have found the ‘rustling sounds’ during intercourse a turn off as also the unsightliness of the outer ring which remains outside the vagina. Above all, female condoms are the only tools which give a woman the choice to exercise her right to protect herself against HIV, which is undeniably a major plus in the present scenario!

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