What's The Female Condom?

There's two types of condoms, you say? Yes!

The male condom (the one you likely learned to put around a banana in sex ed class) and the female condom,, you don't know anything about it, either?

We like to think of ourselves as pretty knowledgeable about how to practice safe sex, but we were embarrassed to discover how little we knew about the female condom. 

Even if you grew up with abstinence-only education, you'll know what a Durex or a Trojan looks like. You also know that some men hate to wear 'em.

Enter the female condom, method of birth control that basically involves inserting what looks like a larger version of the male condom inside your vagina. It is female-controlled, has a 5% failure rate (compared with a 3% failure rate for the male condom) and is ideal for women having sex with men who refuse to wrap it up. Last week, a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel approved a new, cheaper version of the female condom, which, if it passes by the FDA, should be available by mid-2009.

The first-generation version of the female condom has been on the market since 1993, but has been pretty unpopular with women due to the high price of $1.15 to $2.75 each. But in developing countries, where the overwhelming majority of female condoms are used, and women are arguably more at the mercy of men's decisions in bed, the female condom is available for around 80 cents. By using a less expensive material, the makers of the female condom hope to drive the price down even further. That's good news for both women in developing countries and women here!

Of course, women complain about the rubbery way male condoms feel and can be reluctant to wear them, as well. Although we have never used a female condom, we are guessing they feel just as rubbery. The Chicago Tribune calls the "difficult to insert, slippery, sometimes squeaky during sex and unsightly." No, thanks! Hopefully the 2.0 version of the female condom can find a way to make them more comfortable?