I will admit: I’m fascinated by the female condom. For starters, it’s the only female initiated dual-protection (against both pregnancy and STIs) method available. The potential for women all over the world to have agency over our reproduction is amazing. But why, I’ve wondered, is uptake so low? Why don’t any of my friends use it?
There are certainly some aspects of the female condom that are less appealing than other methods. At $7.00 for three, they’re much more expensive than traditional condoms. They’re also a bit less effective than the traditional condom, and there’s the ever pervasive “I don’t like how they feel on my peen” argument for both varieties of condom (although female condom praise-singers are trying to combat that one). The narrative around them in the developed world is often something like “meh.” Female condom manufacturers and advocates have attempted to reframe the discussion to include benefits including enhanced pleasure and ease of use. I’ve joined the call for feminists and health care workers to advocate for their use and access, but the benefits beyond risk reduction feel clumsy and don’t really ring true for me. Can it REALLY stimulate bodies in ways that are worth using them over traditional condoms? Could watching someone insert one possibly be alluring?
So when a friend suggested I shut up and try it, I realized I really should put my birth control where my mouth was. Or something. Keep reading »