Dear Dr. G,

I read your article on condom use with interest last week, and I must confess that I have also been having trouble with using barriers for protection.

My wife and I have been married for ten years and we have two beautiful children.

Although I enjoy the privilege of fatherhood, I had the shock of my life when my wife told me her period was late two months ago.

Thankfully, it turned out to be a scare, but this was a warning sign of how we must take contraception seriously.

Despite multiple attempts in using condoms during intercourse, I found them cumbersome, as my erection tends to wilt when I put on the rubber.

The sensation is true to the description of “eating candies with the wrappers on” or “taking a shower in a raincoat” as it is a dampener.

My wife and I trust each other and therefore sexually transmitted infections are not an issue. However, we are both fearful of an unwanted pregnancy.

She had tried oral contraceptive pills and coils; both gave her problems of weight gain and pain.

In the spirit of Father’s Day, my wife has suggested that I take the burden of being responsible for contraception off my shoulder and would like to put Dr. G on the spot to explore the possibility of using a female condom.

What exactly is a female condom? How does it work?

How common are female condoms and how long have they been around?

Are female condoms effective?

I cannot wait to hear from you and wish you and your readers Happy Father’s Day!


Fed Up Father

Female condoms are an effective method of contraception that women can use to protect themselves against unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The condom has two flexible rings on either end: one ring is inserted deep into the vagina while the other ring sits outside, covering the labia.

This creates a barrier that prevents sperm from entering the vagina and reaching the egg. The inner ring helps to hold the condom in place during sex, while the outer ring provides additional protection against STIs. Unlike traditional male condoms, which are worn by the man, female condoms are worn inside the vagina by the woman.

Compared to male condoms – which have been used as protection against sexually transmitted infections since the 16th Century – the female condom was only devised by a Danish doctor in 1990 and went on sale in 1993 after it was approved by the Food and Drugs Administration in the United States.

They typically come in various sizes. For most vaginas, a moderately sized condom is adequate; women who have recently given birth should try a large size first.

The first generation female condom (FC1) is made from a thin and flexible material called polyurethane. The inner covering that is inserted into the vagina may not snugly fit in, and therefore can potentially make a distracting crinkling noise during penetration. The second generation female condoms (FC2) are made from materials such as nitrile are a better fit and provide the same safety and efficacy without distractions.

Using a female condom is fairly easy and straightforward. To insert it, one should first find a comfortable position, then squeeze the inner ring and insert it into the vagina, making sure that it is pushed up as far as it will go. The outer ring should remain outside the body. One can use lubrication to make insertion feel more comfortable. The FC2 is made of nitrile, therefore oil-or water-based lubricants can be added on the inside and outside of the FC2 female condom or on the penis.

During intercourse, the penis goes inside the female condom, which acts as a barrier between the penis and the vagina. This helps to prevent pregnancy by stopping semen from coming into contact with the cervix. When used correctly, the female condom has a 5% failure rate. Inconsistent or incorrect usage has been shown to result in a 21% failure rate. Additionally, the female condom also helps to protect against STIs, including HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and syphilis.

Once intercourse is finished, the inner ring of the female condom can be gently pulled out avoiding spillage.

One of the advantages of using a female condom is that it gives women more control over their own sexual health. They can choose to use it without needing their partner’s cooperation or involvement. Female condoms are also latex-free, making them a good option for people who have a latex allergy. The device is also obtained without a prescription and has no impact on hormonal changes.

Female condoms may not be as readily available as male condoms, and they can be more expensive. In 2005, 12 million female condoms were distributed to women in the developing world. By comparison, between 6 and 9 billion male condoms were distributed that year. Some people may also find them more difficult to insert or uncomfortable during sex. Nevertheless, with a little practice and experience, many women find that they prefer the female condom over other methods of contraception.

Although female condoms are safe and effective way for women to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy and STIs, it still puts the burden of contraception on the shoulder of women. Many men dampened by the “candy wrapper” and “raincoat” sensations of the male condoms often try their luck at shifting the responsibility to women in the form of female condoms. When fathers who are fearful of a further role of fatherhood put Dr G on the spot for his opinion of female condoms, his view is: “Be someone special and go for the snip, then you can really enjoy the privilege of being a Dad without the candy wrap or the raincoat!”

On that note, Have a Sweet and Sunny Father’s Day!

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