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The Female Condom Is Making A Come Back

I am too young to remember the launch of the first female condom, the FC1, 20 years ago, but apparently it failed for a number of reasons.

Not only was the concept of a female condom as foreign as the concept of tampax was initially, but the FC1 was made from polyurethane, so it was hella noisy. Journalists made fun of the completely serious invention, calling it a plastic bag, a windsock, or a hot air balloon.

The FC2 was brought to life a few years later when 30,000 women signed a petition in Zimbabwe demanding a female condom. Now it’s available in 138 countries. Based on feedback, the FC2 is no longer made from polyurethane, but from nitrile which is less noisy, as well as latex-free. 

 FC2 Female CondomFC2 Female Condom

Female condoms have some cool advantages. They can be inserted hours before sex, and they don't need to be removed immediately afterwards. They do a better job at protecting women from sexually transmitted infections, they have been proven as 95% to 98% effective in protection against pregnancy when used correctly and consistently, and apparently they can even heighten sexual pleasure.

Sounds like a winning combination. No wonder lots of companies are getting into the female condom space. The FC2 currently competes with lots of other models of female condoms, available predominantly in countries like China, Brazil, India, Colombia, and South Africa:

The Woman’s Condom is smaller than FC2. It looks more like a tampon, with most of the condom gathered into a rounded polyvinyl capsule, which dissolves inside the vagina. Once it has expanded, dots of foam help keep it in place.

The Cupid contains a sponge which helps users to insert the condom and prevents it slipping. It is vanilla scented and comes in pink or natural colours.

The VA Wow is similar to the Cupid, pictured below.

VA Wow Female CondomVA Wow Female Condom


FEMEX has a little pocket of air to aid insertion.

The Natural Sensation Panty Condom is made of reusable cotton and nylon. It contains a replaceable pantyliner made of thin synthetic resin that stretches like a male condom.

Silk Parasol Female Panty Condom is packaged with a special pair of knickers, which keep the condom in place, though this product currently focused on FDA clinical trials.

Not on sale yet, but with great potential is the Origami, pictured below, a female condom with an innovative origami folded design. It will be oval-shaped, to mirror the female anatomy and be packaged as a teat-shaped capsule. Once inserted it will expand to fit. The outer ring of the condom will sit flat against the labia, rather than dangling as some others do. Plus it will be dishwasher safe, so you can reuse it.

Origami Female CondomOrigami Female Condom

It’s great that there are so many options enabling women to find a female condom that suits them, but so far, female condoms account for only 0.19% of global condom sales, and cost about 10 times as much.

Personally, I’m about to buy myself some FC2's. I can’t wait to try it. It sounds like a fighter plane, giving me the option to protect myself, rather than relying on men to do it for me. Plus I can take out the flexible outer ring and use it as a bangle, like the women in Africa are doing, to signal my relationship status. Win win.

Have you tried female condoms? What’s your opinion on them?

Ellen Dudley
Medical Technology and Health Apps
InventorSpot.com