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Thirteen Things You Might Not Know About The Female Condom

Every so often the Miri Signal goes up in the sky and I am called to defend the existence of female condoms. If this Daily Dot piece feels familiar, that may be because it was partially cribbed from a piece I wrote last year.

A female condom.

Yes, it looks weird. But so do all condoms.

Every so often, a prominent website devoted to “women’s issues” will post an article about how female condoms are terrible and ugly and totally unsexy and you shouldn’t bother using them. The articles will almost always attempt unflattering comparisons offemale condoms to plastic bags and trash cans for added effect.

Last year on Jezebel, Tracie Egan Morrisey published a piece called “Stop Trying To Make Female Condoms Happen,” in which she wrote: “After never really catching on in the 30 years since its invention, the female condom has received a redesign with the hopes that women will change their minds about wanting to line their vaginas like a waste paper basket.” (The redesign had actually happened several years prior.) And in a recent xoJane article, “Anonymous” concludes:

Given the substantial developments in condom design, further investments in the female condom seem like a waste. It’s an over-engineered solution for a problem that’s already being solved much more effectively. In addition, the high individual cost of the female condom creates a significant barrier when compared to single conventional condoms. Furthermore, my lab partner pointed out, there’s really no way to discreetly carry a female condom around. So much for spontaneity.

“There’s really no way to discreetly carry a female condom around?” They’re barely bigger than the other kind.

It’s important to note that, despite their names, female condoms can be used by people who are not female, and “male condoms” can be used for sex that involves neither males nor penises. But since that’s what everyone’s calling them, those are the conventions with which I’ll stick for now.

Writers who snarkily dismiss female condoms always focus on how they look or sound and which household items they most resemble, but they rarely note some of the benefits of the admittedly funny-looking things. Here are a few:

1) Female condoms are made out of nitrile, not latex, which means that people who have latex allergies can use them.

2) And because they’re not made of latex, you can use them with oil-based lube in addition to water- and silicone-based lube.

3) Many folks with penises say that female condoms feel better than male condoms because it’s less restrictive and there’s more friction on the penis. (Others disagree. That’s okay!) And in fact, there may be more sensation for both partners because nitrile is thinner than latex.

4) With female condoms you don’t have to worry about losing your erection or having to pull out immediately after, and they’re also much less likely to come out than male condoms are to slide off.

5) Because female condoms also cover some area around the vaginal opening, STI transmission may be reduced.

6) Unlike male condoms, you can put them in hours before having sex if you don’t want to worry about it in the heat of the moment.

7) The outer ring of the female condom can stimulate the clitoris, and the inner ring can stimulate the penis. Win!

Read the rest here.

Comments

  1. Kevin Kehres says

    This was a few years ago…a few colleagues tried the female condom out (with their respective spouses) because they were working on a PR campaign for it. Can’t say they embraced the product wholeheartedly.

    I think one of the biggest issues was that it made farty noises during the act — which of course resulted in a bit of a ruined mood — at least the first time around.

    • says

      Actually, the second version of the female condom was specifically designed to cut down on noise, so if they tried it a few years ago, they may have been using the older, louder version. :)

      Anyway, farty noises happen during sex for all sorts of reasons. My own advice to people about all this sort of stuff is to try not to worry so much about “ruined moods” and learn to laugh about the silly stuff that can happen during sex. It doesn’t always have to look like a scene from The Notebook.

      • cactuswren says

        You can get gigglefits during sex anyway, without the help of the female condom. (Just pause in the middle to think about how this activity would appear to an alien from Alpha Centauri.)

  2. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    …why do you need to take the inner ring out to use it for anal sex? I don’t understand the mechanics of this.

    • says

      Well, that’s what I was taught in my sex ed training course. Presumably, it’s because it wouldn’t work well if you have a bent plastic ring blocking your rectum while you’re having anal sex. But if it works, it works.

  3. lorn says

    I’ve always thought about the female condom about like I thought about the Segway; sure, there are a very few people who might benefit but most people would do as well with a bicycle.

    I might need to reconsider. Another option, more possibilities.

  4. Jay Feldman says

    Just so you know, people use “inner condom” and “outer condom” rather than male or female.

    Also, I can verify that the second version of the inner condom doesn’t have noticeable farty noises and has less sensation reduction (for me anyway).

    Additionally, it stays in much better while changing positions. I’ve had problems with outer condoms getting pulled off while changing.