The next big thing (pause) in sex: female condoms

Once upon a time, not that long ago actually, most American women didn’t use tampons.

After they had been invented and introduced as a product, it still took some seventy years for them to gain widespread adoption. People are loathe to change their habits when it comes to intimate parts of the body, even when there are obvious health benefits.

That’s what Patricia Coffey, who works at Seattle-based PATH on global health technologies, says when she argues that the female condom, which she helped develop, could be the next big thing in reproductive health.

Billions of male condoms are sold every year, but they put the onus on men to use them, or on women to get their male partners to use them. Sometimes those interactions are fraught with power imbalances or even threats of violence. With the female condom, one of which she brought to the studio to demonstrate, women can be more empowered in reproductive and sexual decision making.

But how much does a female condom cost to produce? Does it detract from sexual pleasure? Does anyone really use this thing, overseas or in the US? One-word spoilers: Too much, no, and yes, according to PATH. Listen to the podcast for the whole story, though, plus a review of the week’s headlines (Tanzanian agriculture, the American Masai warrior, and progressive mental health models in Guinea).

And don’t worry, I edited out the cringe-worthy sex jokes.

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About Author

Ansel Herz

Ansel Herz is a freelance multimedia journalist whose objective is to “go to where the silence is." His work has been published by ABC News, The Nation magazine, the New York Daily News, Al Jazeera English, Free Speech Radio News, Inter-Press News and many other publications. A Seattle native and survivor of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Ansel is producer of Humanosphere's podcast, among other things. You can contact him at ansel.herz[at]gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @Ansel.