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Female condoms

INTRODUCTION

The female condom covers the cervix, lines the vagina and shields the introitus, thus providing a physical barrier between male and female genitalia and secretions during sexual intercourse. It is designed to protect against both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and is available without prescription. No contraindications exist to its use, but it may not be appropriate for women who are not comfortable touching their genitals or who may have other problems with insertion. Female condoms account for less than 1 percent of condoms produced globally [1].

In 2012, the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) published WHO/UNFPA Female Condom: Generic Specification, Prequalification and Guidelines for Procurement to provide a technically sound, systematic process to support the manufacture, prequalification, procurement and distribution of quality female condoms that meet the needs of different populations in a broad spectrum of challenging environmental conditions.

TYPES OF FEMALE CONDOMS

All female condoms currently available or in development have an anchor (eg, ring, frame) outside the vagina to prevent the condom from being pushed inside the vagina during use; the anchor is also used for removing the condom. Female condoms have been made out of natural rubber latex, synthetic latex (nitrile), and polyurethane. They prevent preejaculatory fluid and semen from entering the vagina. No spermicide is required, but a lubricant is often needed.

The FC1 (Reality, Femy, Care Contraceptive Sheath, Femidom) was the first condom marketed to women, but is no longer in production. It was a soft, loose-fitting polyurethane sheath or pouch with two flexible polyurethane rings. One ring was contained within the closed end of the sheath and served as an insertion mechanism and internal anchor. The other ring formed the external, open edge of the device; it remained outside the vagina after insertion. Silicone-based lubricant lined the inside of the condom, but additional lubrication for the inside and/or outside could be used. The condom was about 17 cm (6.5 inches) in length (similar to a male condom). The expiration date was five years from the date of manufacture.

Variations to the FC1 have been developed:

            

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Literature review current through: Jul 2014. | This topic last updated: Jul 16, 2013.
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References
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