When it comes to birth control, the only responsibility men have is remembering the condoms. Unfortunately, they often can't be relied upon to remember even this small task. So it comes as no surprise that a female condom was developed. Although it is not as effective at preventing pregnancy as the male condom (with an average failure rate of 21% per year), it is the only other effective method of preventing sexually transmitted diseases aside from male condoms and abstinence.
Difference of Appearance
The female condom works in exactly the same way as the male condom by acting as a barrier to sperm. Made of thin polyurethane, the female condom is a sheath with two soft, flexible rings at either end and is worn internally by the woman during sex. The polyurethane covers one ring, which sits up against the cervix and acts as an anchor for the condom.
The second ring is larger and remains outside the body. It covers part of the perineum and labia during intercourse. The female condom can be inserted as much as eight hours prior to sex but it should be removed immediately after sex. It should also not be used with a male condom.
Side Effects and Problems
There are relatively few side effects associated with the female condom. Some people may experience irritation as a result of wearing the condom but the risk is not as great as with latex condoms. However, many people find that the female condom is too noisy while others have troubles inserting the condom.
In some cases, the condom may shift or slip into the vagina during sex, making the condom somewhat ineffective. Some people may also find that the outer ring makes sex uncomfortable while others find that the outer ring is useful in stimulating the clitoris. Additionally, female condoms are more expensive than male condoms.
On the positive side, though, since the female condom is made of polyurethane and not latex, it can safely be used with oil-based lubricants. Currently, there is only one brand of female condoms available. They can be found online, at the pharmacy, or through family planning clinics.