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New research reveals potential of female condoms
Results from a randomised trial looking at the acceptability and failure rates of three new female condom models demonstrate the potential to expand the range of female condoms currently on offer. The resulting study analyses these new female condom options, which have been developed to make usage easier. All three new models were deemed ‘non-inferior’ to the current FC2 model by the women involved in the trial, raising hopes that this underused and poorly promoted prevention method could be set to become more widely available.
Female condoms have been available to buy since 1993 and have the potential to offer women an additional contraception and sexually transmitted infection (STI) and HIV prevention method, which they have more control over. However, the take-up of female condoms has been poor around the world - only one female condom for every 140 male condoms is distributed by international donors.
The key barriers are seen as the cost (on average US$0.60 each, while male condoms are US$0.03); lack of research into their effectiveness; low levels of support from decision-makers; poor distribution and promotion channels; a lack of awareness or understanding of them among the general population; the fact that they are complicated to use at first and that very restricted options exist in terms of product variety.
It is hoped that through trials of this kind, a greater range of female condoms will be approved, to help to overcome these barriers and increase uptake.