More Bang For Your Buck: Female Condoms Highly Effective, Yet Hard to Find

femalecondomIt’s been four years since the makers of the FC2 female condom introduced their new and improved product—now made of nitrile, a latex-free compound—but the female condom still hasn’t caught on in the U.S. As an effective non-hormonal alternative to the much-resented male condom, there should be female condoms available in every drugstore. Marketed under several different brands—Reality, Femy, and Dominique are a few—the condom still hasn’t made a name for itself.

Sure, it looks like a medical-grade balloon animal, but independent reviews claim it fits better and offers substantially better sensation than male condoms—whoa. And yes, it’s $1.50 to $3 per pop, but it can be put in up to eight hours before sex, protects more of the genital area from STIs, and is 95% effective when used properly. Indeed, it takes two to three initial “installations” to figure out how to use it at first, but there’s less slippage, and remember how it’s not latex? That means not only no allergies, but oil-based lubricant is a go.

Despite all the attractive traits of the female condom, it’s caught in a vicious cycle of being frustratingly unavailable and being off the radar of most Americans. More than one drugstore stopped carrying the product due to supposed lack of interest. Now, as far as I can tell, there’s only one place in town that carries it: the pharmacy in OSU’s Student Health Services building. They sell the FC2 under the brand name Reality at the numbing cost of $15 for a pack of five. The next closest purveyor of the FC2 is a Walgreens in Salem. Of course it’s available online at great prices, but to get it locally may require some brave Corvallisites to have awkward conversations with their pharmacists.

By Mica Habarad