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Should we recommend the female condom to college students for HIV/STI prevention?

Stephanie L Marhefka, PhD, David Moschel, BA, and Carolyn Gruber, PA. Pediatrics, New York University School of Medicine, 550 First Avenue, NBV 8W51, New York, NY 10016, 212-263-8226, stephanie@marhefka.net

Background: The female condom (FC) became available in 1992, and has since gained limited popularity. However, studies have not assessed the effectiveness of female condoms in a college student population. Additionally, few studies have used qualitative methods to examine the effectiveness of and satisfaction with the FC. Method: The FC was available to undergraduate students taking an introductory Human Sexuality course. Students were provided visual instruction on FC insertion using a plastic model, and were given printed instructions. Results: Ten female students provided written answers describing their experiences using the FC for the first time. Two students reported device slipping problems that resulted in possible pregnancies. Five had difficulty inserting the FC and 2 were dissatisfied with the insertion process. Two reported disliking the sounds made by the FC. Seven unequivically preferred the male condom. The FC was described as “not comfortable”, “slippery and nasty”, “weird and fantastic”, and “a disturbance”. Students reported that the FC “killed the moment.” Several students said they would not want to use the FC with a new partner. Conclusions: This qualitative study suggests that the FC may not be well accepted by undergraduate students. Health educators and clinicians who recommend the FC should provide anticipatory guidance to prepare potential users for the problems associated with its use. They should also periodically reassess users’ needs regarding ongoing effective FC use.

Learning Objectives:

  • Participant will learn

    Keywords: Sexual Risk Behavior, STD Prevention

    Presenting author's disclosure statement:
    I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

    HIV/AIDS Among Youth and Adolescents

    The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA