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Will a New Female Condom Catch On?

November 13, 2007

The New York Times has a piece today on a new design for the female condom, which is supposed to transmit more warmth and move “more like a vagina” than the old design.

According to the piece, however, female condoms must pass through a more rigorous process than male condoms to gain FDA approval:

While the F.D.A. designates male condoms as Class 2 medical devices — meaning that a new maker has to pass tests only for leakage and bursting — it puts female condoms in Class 3, the same category as pacemakers, heart valves and silicone breast implants…the Class 3 listing means that any new design must pass clinical trials, which would cost $3 million to $6 million. “That’s a huge, huge impediment, close to a 100 percent block, because no one’s willing to put up that sort of money,” Dr. Free said.

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. November 13, 2007 12:17 pm

    Oh, yes. By all means, invent another method of birth control that is the female’s responsibility.

    Because nothing continues to drum “babies=women’s problem” like that. Please can’t someone make a male birth control pill already?

  2. November 13, 2007 12:32 pm

    Kat, good point. One thing the article mentioned is that women in some places would like a method of disease-prevention that can be used secretly, and this new version still doesn’t accomplish that.

  3. November 13, 2007 5:00 pm

    Ah. I can see the disease angle. (I always forget about disease…one of the drawbacks of having one sexual partner in this lifetime.)

  4. November 14, 2007 4:29 pm

    That’s… really annoying. Both the double-standard and the fact that it doesn’t properly prevent disease.

    Of course, I doubt I could use it anyway. My vagina violently rejects pretty much everything inserted in it unless it’s attached to a human. Made trying to use a Nuva Ring fun, lemme tell you.

  5. November 14, 2007 5:01 pm

    You know, I keep hearing women sing the praises of the ring, but I just don’t think I could get into it. When I tried Instead, it shot out like a rocket when I sneezed. Somehow I think I’d end up fishing the ring out of toilets left and right.

  6. November 14, 2007 10:21 pm

    Yep,. that’s exactly what happened to me! I even went to my health center and had them insert it to make sure I wasn’t doing it wrong… by the time I walked to the door, it had fallen out.

  7. scottishboomerang permalink
    November 15, 2007 3:34 am

    Female condoms are the stupidest idea in the world: they fall out, are difficult to use, have a higher failure rate real time, and they kill the mood in ways male condoms don’t. Stick with male condoms. They are easier to use, and safer.

    Mucosal immunologists are working on the “secret condom”. The truth of the mater is that any condom needs active consent on the part of the man to use it. Women in many places in the world just don’t have the negotiating power. What they are working on is a spermacide/antiviral gel that can be sqirted into the vagina and activates on contact with semen. It’s theoretically possible, and when they have it, a woman can use it an the man need never actually know.

    Personally though, my feeling is that there needs to be a paradigm shift about condoms – especially in society where women have a very low status. Its no surprise that HIV infection rates are higher in societies where it sucks to be a girl.

  8. November 15, 2007 8:58 am

    Scottishboomerang – I think you nicely summed up the problems of the female condom. Thanks for your comment.

  9. November 15, 2007 1:05 pm

    Male birth control is on the way.. I’ve read a lot lately about testosterone-based contraceptives for males that are supposed (“supposed”) to hit the shelves in the next few years. I for one will be first in line..

  10. November 15, 2007 2:29 pm

    Chris, thanks for your comment. I also keep hearing about a “male pill” – wonder when that will actually happen? It doesn’t solve the disease problem for women in some parts of the world, but would probably we a welcome relief for women elsewhere.

  11. November 15, 2007 2:29 pm

    PS-I’m bummed that you’re staying out of the penis talk. ;)

  12. November 15, 2007 6:01 pm

    One might even say we’re “dicked off”…

  13. December 18, 2007 11:04 pm

    As Convenor of Female Condoms Working Group of ISO TC 157 on Mechanical Contraceptives,Iwould like emphasis that Female condoms are one of the preventive measures in developing countries for HIV/AIDS.Hence there is need for speedy approval with limited clinical trials.

  14. April 27, 2008 12:14 am

    We heard somthing to do with a tablet for men? What ever happened to that.
    But women still get infected because of unprotected sex. The problem still prevails.

  15. December 4, 2008 12:48 pm

    Kat, It seems that safe sex has always been marketed exclusively to men through condoms. Isn’t it time we gave women some options as well? Particularly in areas with high levels of HIV rates (like Africa) where men are resistant to wearing any form of barrier methods at all, the female condom could be a life saver.

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