My Love-Hate (But Mostly Love!) Relationship with the Female Condom

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Author: 
Samantha Greenberg - NWHN Intern
Date: 
Mon, February 27, 2012

 

Ladies, I’m not going to lie to you. The first time I tried the FC2 female condom I did NOT like it. I wanted to like it. I really really wanted to like it. With all the possibilities the FC2 offers for women to reclaim their sexuality, to combat gender stereotypes, to empower women to make informed decisions about safer sex - I wanted to love the FC2 right away. But I didn’t.

Lately, the FC2 has been promoted as the great alternative to the traditional male condom. Reproductive health organizations are giving it out to clients in droves, hoping it will catch on as the latest trend in safer sex. The FC2 condom looks similar to the traditional condom but is wider and has a removable ring on the inside and an irremovable ring on the outside. To use the FC2 for vaginal intercourse, a woman or her partner squeezes the inner ring of the condom, inserts it into the vagina and uses his or her fingers inside the condom to push the ring up as far as it will go, until it reaches the cervix.
 
The FC2 is made out of nitrile polymer, instead of latex, making it less likely to rip or tear. In addition, the FC2 is said to feel more natural than traditional condoms and to better protect against STIs spread through skin to skin contact (such as genital herpes and genital warts). Other benefits of the female condom include its ability to warm to the temperature of the body, increasing comfort for both partners, and stimulation of the clitoris and cervix during intercourse, leading to greater pleasure for many women. 
 
Personally, I have always been a big fan of the female condom in theory. While the idea of inserting something into the vagina before sex sounded a little strange to me, I was told it was easy once you got the hang of it. So I tried the FC2, hoping I’d love it.
 
But the first time I tried the FC2 female condom, I couldn’t figure out how to insert it correctly.  The inside ring kept sliding from between my fingers, made slippery by the lubricant that is pre-applied to the condom. After finally getting the inside ring inserted, it seemed there was no amount of maneuvering that could push the condom into place. I gave up quickly but vowed to try again soon.
 
The second time I tried the FC2, I perservered and managed to insert the condom correctly. My personal trick is to twist the inner ring into a figure 8 shape to keep it from slipping and then push the inner ring upwards as far as I can until I feel resistance. My difficulties the second time I tried FC2 surrounded sex itself. It felt strange and uncomfortable to use the FC2, like having sex through a plastic bag. And the condom came out slightly during sex, making it all the more uncomfortable. This second experience discouraged me. Why wasn’t the FC2 living up to all the hype? Maybe it wouldn’t be an empowering tool for women after all, if women couldn’t even figure out how to use it. I was considering giving up on the female condom completely.
 
But then, I tried the FC2 one last time…
 
The third time I tried the female condom, I LOVED it. A good samaritan at the NGO I work for told me it was best to insert the female condom 20 minutes before intercourse. Those 20 minutes are very important because the condom needs time to warm up to the woman’s body temperature. After inserting the FC2 and using those 20 minutes to my advantage (also a good way to convince your partner that extra foreplay is a good idea), the FC2 warmed to my body temperature and became like a second skin. After this occurred, the FC2 felt very natural. In fact, I couldn’t feel it at all.
 
My experiences with the FC2 since that first success haven’t just been great, they’ve been EARTHSHATTERING! With a little persistence, the FC2 is now my preferred method of contraception. I promise the end result is well worth the wait.
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This is so exciting! You

This is so exciting! You write fearlessly on a subject many would tremble at discussing. AND this is amazing news for women as well as men. Send some my way!

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