The female condom (I Figure 10.4) is made of polyurethane or latex and was approved by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration in 1993 (Beksinska et al., 2011). It resem­bles a male condom but is worn internally by the woman. In 2009 the FDA approved the FC2 female condom, which is made of softer material for quieter use and is about one-third less expensive than the original female condom, and since then other female condoms have become available or are in development (Beksinska et al., 2011; Heavy, 2009). A flexible plastic ring at the closed end of the sheath fits loosely against the cer­vix, rather like a diaphragm (discussed in the following section). Another ring encircles the labial area. Although the female condom fits the contours of the vagina, the penis moves freely inside the sheath, which is coated with a silicone-based lubricant. Used correctly, female condoms can substantially reduce the risk of transmission of some STIs and are of particular benefit for women in countries with high HIV rates (Center for Health and Gender Equity, 2011).

Don’t Go Inside Without Your Rubbers On

■ TABLE 10.5 Which Lubricants Are Safe and Unsafe to Use With Condoms?



Water-based or silicone lubricants

Aldara cream


Baby oil or cold creams


Bag Balm

Cornhuskers Lotion

Edible oils (e. g., vegetable, olive, peanut, corn, sunflower)

Water and saliva

Body lotions


Massage oils

All ID lubricants (except ID Cream)

Mineral oil


Petroleum jelly

H-R Lubricating Jelly

Rubbing alcohol

K-Y Lubricating Jelly



Suntan oils and lotions


Whipped cream


Vaginal yeast infection creams and suppositories

Gynol II

Wet (except Wet Oil)

Silicone lubricant


Vaginal spermicides

SOURCE: Adapted from Hatcher (2003).


Vaginal Spermicides

Several types of vaginal spermicides are available without a prescription: foam, sup­positories, the sponge, creams and jellies, and contraceptive film (I Figure 10.5). Foam is a white substance that resembles shaving cream. It comes in a pressurized can and has a plastic applicator. Vaginal suppositories have an oval shape, and the sponge is a



Uterus —–



(b) Ап applicator filled with foam is inserted into the vagina, and the foam is deposited in the back of the vaginal canal

(c) Vaginal contraceptive film

I Figure 10.5 Vaginal spermicides are available in pharmacies without a prescription.

doughnut-shaped spermicide-containing device that absorbs and subsequently kills sperm. VCF, a vaginal contraceptive film, is a paper-thin, 2-by-2-inch sheet that is laced with spermicide. It is packaged in a matchbook-like container holding 10 to 12 sheets.