Condoms are adjudged to be the most efficient technology in combating the spread of HIV/AIDS virus and other sexually transmitted and transmittable diseases.
Several studies also found that there was a need for additional effective dual protection prevention methods to protect women and couples from STIs, HIV and unintended pregnancy. The finding gave birth to the female condom in 1984 by a Danish medical doctor, Lasse Hessels.
According to scientists, the female condom is an innovative barrier contraceptive that not only offers potential protection against sexually transmitted diseases but was supposed to be a major contraceptive without side effects.
Since its launch in Switzerland, female condom has been made available in commercial, social marketing and public sector programmes in over 65 countries, including Nigeria. Sadly, two decades down the line, female condoms are still not popular or widely used by Nigerian women despite the rise in the unmet need for family planning resulting in unintended pregnancies in the country.
According to a family planning provider, Mrs Abiola Adekoya, few women who tried to use female condom were discouraged due to the technicality associated with it. “Before women open a female condom, they should wash their hands very well as the product is very oily.
They should check the expiry date and that it appears in good condition. It should be carefully removed out of the packet so as not to rip it and teeth or scissors should not be used to cut it, Women should be careful with sharp fingernails or jewelry when opening it”.
She goes further, “You can sit, squat, lie or stand in a position you find comfortable. It has two rings, squeeze the smaller ring at the closed end of the condom and insert it into your vagina as far as it will go, making sure that it doesn’t twist. The large ring at the open end of the female condom will cover the area around the vaginal opening. It will stay outside the body. “When you have sex, the penis should enter into the female condom. The woman must always guide her partner to ensure it goes in the right place and throughout the intercourse”.
“After sex, twist the large ring to prevent semen from leaking out and gently pull the female condom out. It has its own techniques; if not used properly, it can result in an unplanned pregnancy”.
Adekoya said although female condom is a short-acting barrier method of family planning, if used correctly, it is highly effective.
Corroborating her views, the National President of HealthCare Providers Association of Nigeria, HCPAN, Dr Adeyeye Arigbabuwo, confirmed that female condoms are safe for use. According him, it is all about protection against diseases and unwanted pregnancies. Dr. Sakina Bello, Senior Program adviser – Pathfinder International in Nigeria, on his part, said female condom empowers the woman/girl to negotiate safer sex as she can totally control its use rather than relying on the man to provide and wear his own condom.
“It is equally a convenient method of contraception as you only need to use it when you have sex. Since it can be worn up to eight hours before sexual intercourse, it gives the woman enough time to prepare for the act ahead of time and avoid any interruption during sex. The condom comes pre-lubricated and wide, with flexible rings that heightens the pleasure for both partners during intercourse and eliminates the possible discomfort often complained with the male condoms”, she said.
On whether it is reliable, it is a contraceptive with no serious side effects.
“If used correctly and consistently, the female condoms are 95% effective against unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. “There is generally a low level of awareness about female condom hence the need for increased public education. According to NDHS 2013, less than 0.5% of the population is aware of female condom. However, there have been pockets of programs led by partners in a few states that have increased the awareness to some extent”.
Health providers have also been trained, and some can competently counsel their clients on female condom. Interaction with female sex workers also suggests that usage among them is on the increase. Although not as widely available as the male condoms and often more expensive, it is available in all public facilities free and can be obtained from major pharmacies or super marts in Nigeria.
Health watchers are of the view that the female condom remains an effective female-initiated method that can make a major contribution to prevention efforts globally and enables women to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights.
Curled from Vanguard