Female condoms were first invented and made available in the late 80s but most women have still never seen one, let alone know how they work. Given that female condoms are one of the few contraceptive methods which women can be fully responsible for, I think it's important that all women are made aware of all of their options. While the idea of the female condom might make you giggle or even laugh out loud, do yourself a favor and read on anyway -- you just might be glad that you did.
What is the female condom?
The female condom is similar to the male condom in that the shape and materials are very much alike, but condoms for women don't require any assistance from men. The basic condom structure itself consists of a thin barrier sleeve with a flexible ring at either end -- one end of the sheath is closed and one end is open. It protects against both pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
How do you use it?
Using the female condom is pretty simple. Insert the ring at the closed end of the sleeve into the vagina, and that ring will hold the female condom in place. Meanwhile, the ring at the open end of the condom is placed just outside of the vaginal entrance -- you don't insert that ring. The female condom functions just like the male condom functions. It's meant to be used during intimate relations and removed in a timely fashion when the moment has concluded.
How effective is it?
Female condoms, when used consistently and correctly, are almost as effective as the male condom. That said, less than perfect use of the female condom can drastically lower that efficacy rate.
What is the female condom made of?
The original condom for women was made of polyurethane, which is brilliant for those who have latex allergies. Today there are also nitrile and natural latex versions available for those who might prefer those materials.
Female condoms and spermicide
Unlike many male condoms, female condoms do not come with spermicide (although they do come with a lubricant) and if you'd like to use a spermicide like Nonoxynol-9 you will need to purchase it separately.
Where can you buy female condoms and how much do they cost?
Female condoms are still a bit of a giggle in some cultures and social circles and you may not feel comfortable purchasing them at your local drug store. And if you live in the sticks, your local drug store may not even carry them. If that's the case, online shops like Amazon.com can ship them to you without your local clerk giving you a funny look. A package of 10 female condoms costs about 20 dollars.
Because the female condom is wider and therefore a looser fit than male condoms, the female condom can offer a more natural experience. It can also help in those cases where regular male condoms are too small for the male partner.