The female condom: Are there risks with using it?

We discuss the effectiveness of female condoms, and whether they are absolutely safe in preventing pregnancy and transmission of sexual diseases.

A female condom is, as the term suggests, a condom used by women. Like the male condom, it is used to prevent an unwanted pregnancy, or the spread of STIs or STDs during sex. It is meant to prevent the direct contact of the human penis with the vagina or cervix.

Structurally, this condom differs from the male condom, in that it often has two rings instead of one. There is a smaller ring at the closed end of the condom, which is a flexible kind of ring. The larger ring is located at the open end of the condom, and it rests outside the vagina.

During sex, the smaller ring keeps the end of the condom closed so that it does not break or tear, and inadvertently leak semen into the vaginal canal or cervix.

Are there any risks with using the female condom?

This category of condom is gaining recognition only now, though its use is still quite low among most sexually active women. A lot of couples continue to use male condoms for protection.

However, women who want to take greater control of their sexual destiny must certainly invest in female condoms, especially if the male half of the relationship does not like to use condoms during sex. It can also be useful when you have sex with a new partner, and when you are unsure about their sexual health.

  • By conservative estimates, the female condom has a high failure rate of 21%. This means that 21 out of 100 women may still become pregnant despite using the condom for sex. However, it shows better safety rates in terms of preventing the transmission of STIs and STDs.
  • This condom shows better success rates in preventing pregnancy when used in conjunction with other contraceptive methods, like spermicidal gel or foam, or the cervical sponge inserted into the vagina before sex as a barrier birth control method), or contraceptive cream.
  • Unless it is manufactured by a reliable brand, the female condom may show a greater tendencyto tear or burstduring sex. This defeats the purpose of its use, since a torn condom can leak semen into the vagina and cause transmission of STIs and STDs, or even cause a pregnancy.
  • It is normally not recommended that the female condom be used in conjunction with a male condom. This can certainly ensure double protection, but it may result in lack of sensation during sex. Either or both condoms may also tear with friction.

What should I do for contraception?

If you are not 100% sure about using a female condom, then you should look at other methods of birth control. These include hormonal injections (to be taken every 12 weeks), birth control pills (spanning 28 days every month), a hormonal patch or ring (attached on the inner arm by a doctor) or IUDs like the copper T.

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