Wednesday, April 9, 2008

First Experiences - The Female Condom

I advocate a lot for all forms of effective contraceptives. Condoms, pills, patches, caps, gels, whatever. If it protects you from something, I'm for it.

But the other day I realized that I hadn't actually used all those things. I use birth control pills- Yaz- which I may often mention, and I never go without a condom. (I can't say I never have, but I never do.) But that's pretty much my experience. My pills work for me, so I haven't tried anything else. I'm not big on lubricants (too slimy and dries me up), so I'm not an avid spermicide user (although I do have a fondness for condoms that come With spermicide already on them). And for the rest, they are over my price range or superfluous with my avid pill and condom use.

A while back, my aunt brought me a few Female Condoms (odd, I know, but huzzah us for openness) from the Student Center nearby. They sat in my condom basket for a few weeks, until yesterday.
I don't think it's fair for me to say that all these contraceptive methods are great and should be used if I haven't even used half of them.

So, I gave one a try.

Now, my first Product Review is of the FC Female Condom.

I first heard about the female condom a few months back while stopping at a Planned Parenthood booth at the university. They were handing out little bags of stuff, and of course I'm always up for free stuff, so I took one and asked what was (supposed to be) in it. When a female condom was mentioned, I asked about it, and after an explanation was glad to have gotten it, I wanted to check it out. Unfortunately my bag didn't have one, but I didn't fret.
From the explanation given, I got an odd mental image of a double sided tube, partly in the vagina and partly hanging out, and having to get the penis into the outside tube to then go into the vagina. It didn't seem ideal. But after seeing the pictures in the pamphlet that came with the female condoms I was given, it seemed much more snug and comfortable; more practical. Unfortunately, on trying it, I found out my initial idea was more accurate.

The pamphlet includes lots of information. From why its a good idea to use it, to detailed diagrams of how to use it, to precautions and FAQs, it's pretty helpful. No complaints here. Although the actual descriptions of what to do are a bit hard to follow on the first attempt, but the pictures kind of take care of it. My favorite of the precautions is one of those things that is stated several times in several places, and you just can't believe they would actually put it on something, but sadly know that some people would actually be dumb enough to not know it. It stated “REMEMBER- The FC female condom only works if you use it.”
Wait, what? Isn't that silly? That's like someone complaining that they haven't learned anything from a book, while they've never even opened it. Unfortunately some people really are that ridiculous and probably would sue because the FC didn't keep them from getting pregnant while it sat on their bedside table.

The packaged condom itself is about twice the length of a regular condom, only slightly bigger in width. Lightly squeezing it, it feels about the same as a regular condom. All the squishiness and odd plastic circles that condom users are used to, only bigger.

Upon opening, the condom kind of looks like a small tubular trash bag, with a strange circlet in the bottom. Something like this...

Seeing it, my boyfriend- W- commented on how it was definitely not sexy. It wasn't. Vaguely translucent, thick, and covered in a layer of slimy lubricant, I wasn't particularly impressed. But I plowed forward anyway.

The insertion was probably the weirdest part. It suggests to lift one leg up during insertion- much like tampon instructions- so I tried with one knee up on the bed while standing. It wasn't easy the first few attempts. You're supposed to squeeze the inner ring- whilst it's inside the bag, just as you pulled it out- while pushing it up into the vagina. This is difficult because, as I said, the bag is covered in a layer of lubricant, so it tends to slip right out of your fingers. Once that's managed though, getting it in is fairly easy, especially if you're used to tampons and the such.
The biggest trouble I had with that was being sure that it was in correctly. I mean, sure, it was in, but the idea is that it should cup over your cervix, so it protects and stays in place. But once I put it in, looking at the pictures made me feel like it wasn't in far enough. It felt like my cervix was way to close to the outside of my vagina and I just didn't think it was the right place. But, having to admit that it probably was, I just pushed it as far as it could go and went on. This only really became a problem because due to a lack of anything nice to watch (this performance certainly wasn't), he lost his erection and we had to bring it back, but that was the biggest real issue.

But here is my biggest problem. There was a bag hanging out of my vagina.
Let me repeat that.
There was a BAG hanging out of my VAGINA.
It was not at all as close to my skin as the image looked, it was very much hanging there.
Kinda like that...

It just wasn't pretty. But lets move on.

We went ahead and gave it a try. As my first impression foretold, it was a matter of getting the penis into this tube, which wasn't exactly sexy, but once the action took place, the whole thing did adjust itself, and did fit closer to the skin, and once we adjusted to it, things went pretty much like normal.

From the guy's side, he said that at first he didn't feel anything at all, but once he adjusted, it felt pretty normal.

Oh, the only problem during the event was that the edges of the outer ring did not- like some pictures show- go all the way up to the clitoris. It did, however, go to about the urethra, and it irritated the hell out of it, rubbing back and forth against it like that. That might not be a problem for everyone, but I have a sensitive one, so it was for me.

Taking it out was simple, although a bit annoying that you can't get up before you do, unless you want a big icky mess on your hands/legs/sheets/carpet. And disposal was just like any regular condom; trash, not toilet. (W actually used to put condoms down the toilet all the time and it drove me crazy!)

Basically, my experience with the FC Female Condom was not particularly satisfactory. I will tell you, however, that the thing did not break. The plastic is thick and pretty much stayed in place. So unless you use a regular condom with it (Don't!) there shouldn't be any problems with the thing tearing. So, as far as pregnancy goes, it's a good preventer despite its strangeness.

Overall, I think that while I don't plan on making use of these on a regular basis, it is a pretty adequate alternative to condoms, especially for people who are allergic to latex (FC's are latex-free, yay!).

Related Posts: The Many Ways to Play Safe 1

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

OMG! That is too funny! I SO COULDN'T USE THAT!

I would be laughing too would be dragging on the floor!

tee hee!