New female condom could prove better fit

07 March 2013 - 02:28 By SIPHO MASOMBUKA

An improved female condom promising to combine prevention and pleasure will soon be available everywhere from clinics to taverns, in a move to boost women's control of their sexual health.

Unlike the previous latex version that was badly received and produced a rustling noise that some found distracting, the new version is made from synthetic latex and will not trigger reactions from those sensitive to latex.

The Health Department has received a consignment of 2million improved female condoms as a donation from the UN Population Fund.

Another shipment of 2million units produced in the UK is expected to arrive in the next three months.

Jennifer Christian, global social marketing adviser for Population Services International, said the new female condom, referred to as FC2, warms up to body temperature, giving it a natural feel. Unlike its discontinued latex forerunner FC1, the FC2 was cheaper to produce and could be stored anywhere, while the FC1 would be destroyed by direct sunlight.

The seam that some people found irritating also gone and any lubrication can be used on the FC2.

Christian said, however, that getting people to warm to the new female condom would be tricky as people were used to male condoms.

"The goal is not to get people to switch to female condoms but to have a choice," she said.

The Health Department will distribute the improved female condoms in public health facilities, while NGO Society for Family Health will distribute it to public places such as taverns, shebeens and spaza shops.

Health Department spokesman Joe Maila said: "The UN Population Fund has come to our rescue so we can ensure a further increase in distribution."