Will Female Condoms Thrive in the Face of Bad Press?

Society for Women and AIDS in Africa (Cameroun Chapter) educators do a female condom demo
Above: volunteer health educators with the Society for Women and AIDs in Africa – Cameroun (SWAAC) do a female condom demonstration in a busy marketplace in a Camerounian village

The second generation female condom (FC2) was approved by the FDA for distribution in the United States more than a year ago, but it’s only recently that a few major cities – most notably Chicago and Washington DC – have begun to make an effort to promote the FC2 and make it more widely accessible.

Pretty much every article I’ve read about the female condom in recent memory starts out by reiterating all the things people loathe about FCs. I won’t recap because starting with a negative lede, no matter how hopeful an article ends up, just sets the tone and discourages people from seeking out FCs. The Daily Beast has a piece up that starts with all the negative aspects of the FC, and the Sexist offers a slightly different view, of the FC as compatible with well-endowed men.

There seems to be a notion of universal negative experience with FCs, with an undercurrent of disbelief that anyone would enthusiastically use them. Though this may be the case domestically, this isn’t the case all over the world. Furthermore, historically male or external condoms have had a long road to becoming a popular method of STI and pregnancy prevention, and people still consistently complain about the unpleasantness of using them. Complaints about barrier devices of all kinds abound.

However, our partners SWAAC in Cameroun have had significant success with the female condom. People in Cameroun have created demand for the FC – so much so that male traditional healers carry packages of FCs by foot to villages where people want to use them. In fact, back in December Cameroun became the first country in the world where there is a significant enough demand for female condoms so that there is more than one brand available. For more about FCs in Cameroun, watch the video below.

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