Female condoms haven't really caught on in the US--- or in any country for that matter. Often, the male condom has served as a less embarrassing and more natural feeling alternative. However, male condoms generally put contraceptive power and choice into the hands of those who wear them, men. This has proven to be a problem in Africa, where the AIDS epidemic is ever-present. Many women have to choose between keeping their partners happy and keeping themselves protected. The traditional female condom design was uncomfortable and awkward, leaving this contraceptive method rarely utilized. However, researchers have developed a new design that feels natural, and in many cases, men can hardly detect its presence. In Africa, this is an especially important technology, allowing women to protect themselves from the threat of AIDs without needing permission from their partner.
Beyond Africa, female condoms could play an important role in changing women's reproductive freedom. Men often are "in charge of" supplying condoms and women in taking the pill. This often allows women control over the choice to procreate, while the risk for sexually transmitted diseases still looms. A more desirable female condom may allow women take a more active role in preventing STD transmission.
Here are some questions I have:
1. Is there a market for female condoms in Western countries?
2. Even if there isn't a market, do female condoms signify an important step toward female autonomy in reproduction?
3. If female condoms do become more popular, will they affect the desirability of male condoms at all?