As hot topics like gender equality and sexual assault are topping social media news feeds and making headlines, Global Female Condom Day may be coming just at the right time.
September 16 marks the third annual Global Female Condom Day (GFCD), an international day of action meant to increase knowledge, availability, and use of female condoms. A long list of organizations and individuals all over the world will come together to support the spread of female condom usage and accessibility.
This year’s GFCD theme is Dance4Demand, complete with an original song, encouraging people to post on social media videos of dancing to show the global demand for female condoms. September 16 also is a big day for the product image of the FC2, the latest female condom from the Female Health Company that was FDA approved in 2009. A new purple and gold package design will launch in the United States, replacing the original packaging that remained since 1993. The Female Health Company is encouraging participation in Dance4Demand with their own “It Takes FC2 to Tango” video competition for a chance to win a $1k grant.
The FC2 Female Condom is the only available woman-initiated product that protects against both sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS, and unintended pregnancy. Since women globally are more vulnerable to STIs, HIV/AIDS, and sexual violence than men, the FC2 provides a way for women to take control of their own bodies and sexual habits. Proponents of the female condom promote it as a tool for improving women’s health as well as a way to empower women.
Dr. Debby Herbenick of the Kinsey Institute and Indiana University School of Public Health is currently developing a female condom that not only is empowering women in health and safety, but also pleasure. With a grant from the Global Challenges Exploration Program funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Herbenick is designing a female condom that does not decrease, rather enhances sensations during sex, called the Female Pleasure Condom™. Research has shown that a prominent reason people choose not to wear condoms is because they think condoms decrease sensation and pleasure, even though other research indicates that pleasure experienced during sex is generally rated as high, regardless of condom use.
Read an interview with Dr. Herbenick about her work on the Female Pleasure Condom.
Dr. Herbenick’s research makes it apparent that the current female condom has not reached mainstream popularity—especially when negative messages circulate, like the recent removal of a Facebook page which showed how to use a female condom. According to Herbenick’s research, they account for less than 1% of condoms worldwide. Similar to the tampon when it was first introduced, many women find it uncomfortable to insert or simply don’t know how to use a female condom. Herbenick is addressing the comfort and quality of the product itself, while GFCD is working to educate both women and men about use and accessibility.
The efforts to modernize and popularize female condoms could be shaping the future of healthy and pleasurable sex practices.