Condoms, condoms and condoms! The words may sound like a taboo to many but everyone needs to be protected especially when they are sexually active. The idea behind the creation of condoms was to control births, prevent sexual transmitted diseases and promote a healthy sex life. How people choose to be protected is a personal preference but the pace at which these safety tools leave the shelves speak volumes. Over the years, the male condom has been the choice and priority tool of protection for many compared to the female condom.
The femidom, as it is predominantly called, was developed to assist and empower women who are not in control of their sexual life so that they do not have to wait or hope that the man will have protection. It is a soft, thin, loose-fitting coat that comes in various sizes. The femidom has a flexible ring at both ends, with those of moderate sizes fitting most vaginas adequately.
During its introduction to society decades ago, the female condom was an easy tool to acquire in the past. The safety net does not affect hormonal levels. It is not made of latex and thus safe for those allergic to latex. Unlike the male condom, the femidom can be used even while urinating.
But even with countless advantages, society has somehow put the rubber aside for a packet of male condoms. There seem to be a pool of reasons why these life jackets are forgotten and no longer a subject.
Women specifically are born being conscious. For men, the habit of carrying condoms around whether they have sexual intercourse or not is a normal practice while women get the ratched eye when seen with the same ammunition. But besides the perception from society, there seem to be more than just that.
“The fact that I have to insert it hours before the time and just the idea of already being prepared to having sexual intercourse will make me forget the purpose of my day and make me feel weird,” said a young woman who prefers to be remain anonymous. Another women who shared the same sentiments agreed that femidom is not even a choice for young women. A nurse from the Windhoek Central Hospital said that there is indeed a decline in the use of the femidom in comparison to the male condom.
“There has been a decline in the use of female condoms and an increase in male. Women in the streets do not want to use the femidom because they are shy or they just are not interested in the femidom,” said Maria Shilongo, a nurse at the Windhoek Central Hospital.
Shilongo added besides the femidom not being in demand at the hospital, health officials advise young women to see the importance taking control of coitus and not only depend on men to be in charge.
While this may be because of the low demand, sending these condoms to the government offices may just be one of the reasons why the condoms is out of sight and use.
“Honestly, I do not think the femidom is user friendly and attractive enough to get women to like it. Not only is it time consuming but its look just qualifies for a straight no. It looks like a dustbin and the fact that you have to put it in your vagina yourself and walk to wherever with it make women even more comfortable. It makes a sound during sex which is irritating. I just cannot comprehend why I would want to walk with a condom in my vagina in town. No, it will not happen,” said Selma Mungoba.
Mungoba adds that unlike the male condom that comes in different brands and flavours, “there is nothing attractive about the femidom. It is all plain and boring.”
The femidom has in recent years played second fiddle to the male condom. At Robert Mugabe Clinic the Smile condom box was empty in comparison to the femidom box. “We do not have the femidom anymore because it is not on call and it seems to be off the market and not widely distributed. I had it in stock years ago,” said Pharmacist Safoora Adams.
The female condom is the only female initiated prevention mechanism that prevents the male partner being exposed to the female partner’s vaginal fluids and the female partner being exposed to the male partner’s semen during sexual intercourse. Thus it prevents the spread of STIs which are transmitted via sexual fluids (e.g. chlamydia). By covering parts such as the vulva and labia, the femidom provides a greater degree of protection against diseases. Besides the above benefits, many women remain head-stuck to never use the feminine coat.
Most women find inserting a female condom difficult at first, but research indicates that insertion becomes easier and fewer mistakes are made with practice. Women who wish to use a female condom should practice and familiarise themselves before hand to ensure perfection during sexual intercourse. Health experts recomend that women insert the femidom at least three hours before sexual intercourse.
“I am sorry. I will not place that thing inside me. It is much easier for the men to just use the condom,” said Linda Beukes.
Other reasons attributed towards the decline in use of the femidom points to the lack of knowledge on how to use the protective gear. Because of its complexities, it is thus not a surprise that many women have come to prefer the male condom that is easy and carries flavour.
But what about the femidom?
If the femidom ever makes an appearance as strong as the male condom, below are few tips as to how to go about it:
Open the packet carefully and remove the condom. Rub both sides to distribute the lubricant evenly across the condom.
Choose a comfortable position for insertion (e.g. squatting, raising one leg or lying down).
While holding the condom at the closed end, grasp the flexible inner ring and squeeze it with the thumb and forefinger so it becomes long and narrow.
With your free hand, hold the outer lips of the vagina open and gently insert the ring up into the vagina, using the thumb and forefinger.
Place your index finger inside the ring and push the condom up the vagina as far as possible, until it is above your pubic bone. (The pubic bone can be felt as a large lump by putting your finger inside your vagina and moving it up and to the front.) Once the female condom is properly inserted, the pubic bone will hold it in place and prevent it from slipping out of the vagina during intercourse.
The outer ring should stay outside of the vagina.
The female condom should not create any discomfort, and once properly inserted, the woman should not be able to feel it.
When having sexual intercourse using a female condom, women should:
Guide the penis with their hand into the open end of the condom, making sure it goes into the condom and not to the side. As the condom is lubricated and slippery it is easy for the penis to slip between the condom and the vagina if the penis is not carefully guided;
Ensure there is enough lubricant so the condom stays in place during sex. If the condom is pulled out or pushed in, there is not enough lubricant. You can add more lubricant to either the inside of the condom or the outside of the penis;
To remove the condom, twist the outer ring then pull it out. Be careful not to let the semen leak out. If the woman was not upright during intercourse, she should remove the condom from her vagina before standing up, to prevent semen leaking out;
Wrap the condom in a tissue and throw it in the bin. Do not flush it down the toilet.
While it is important to both parties to be protected, it is thus advised that women too come on board to carry their own ammunition and not depend on the man to bring his condom only. The crux of the matter boils down to the fact that sex is supposed to be a pleasurable activity and left to personal preferences of the doers.