By Melissa Sanchez, LBSW
Medical Case Manager
St. Hope Foundation
On March 7th, I had the opportunity to represent St. Hope Foundation at a Female Condom Training at Planned Parenthood. The training was led by Sharifa Charles from AIDS Foundation Houston.I am not ashamed to say that when I first started at St. Hope I did not even know the female condom existed. Through time I became more familiar with it but now feel like I can talk about the FC2 confidently.
The following are a few key points I believe can be useful for many:
The FC2 condom is the second generation condom. It was mainly created to lower the condom cost from that of the first female condom. Contrary to what many of us think, the female condom has been around since the 1980’s but was finally FDA approved in 1993.Through partnerships and agencies like St. Hope, the female condom has become more popular.
The female condom 2 proves safety and efficacy just like a regular condom would. Several studies have actually proven that the female condom allows women and men to access more prevention options and results in an increase in protected sex acts and a decrease in STI’s, including HIV/AIDS. This is important since in the U.S. approximately 50% of people will have an STI at some point in their lifetimes.
The female condom is made of synthetic nitrile as opposed to the female condom 1 which was made of polyurethane. The change in material has made the female condom more affordable while maintaining its high quality. The FC2’s outer ring is made of synthetic nitrile as well. The inner ring aids insertion and helps secure the device in place during intercourse.It can be worn by a woman for up to 8 hours allowing the women to have the option of being protected during sexual intercourse.
The stress of unwanted pregnancies and the increasing toll of STI’s including HIV demonstrate the need to counsel women and couples on the entire range of protective options available to them. Together we can do this and we can continue empowering women to try and properly use the FC2. “He doesn’t like condoms” is no longer an excuse. HIV/AIDS infections rates for women continue to increase. As i also learned in this training,the number of women living with HIV in the U.S. has tripled in the last two decades! With statistics like these we need to continue teaching and giving women the confidence to take control of their sex lives. A woman with the power to control her sex life will not only keep herself safe from STI’s and HIV/AIDS, but from unwanted pregnancies as well.