Female condom a reality
By Sandra Dimitrakopoulos
Finally approved for marketing in Canada, the new female condom called "Reality" is designed to empower women while safeguarding them from the perils of sex in the '90s.
The condom is made out of polyurethane and allows for greater sensitivity, as well as proving individuals who are allergic to latex another safe sex option, said Marion Powell, professor emerita of community medicine at the University of Toronto, an affiliate to Women's College Hospital.
Powell said the Reality works by placing one end of the condom inside the vagina and wrapping a ring on the open end around the labia. Although the product looks awkward, there has been a change in attitude since the female condom was first introduced, she said.
Powell is involved in the promotion of the female condom which she said offers couples an average of 90 per cent protection against pregnancy and a slightly higher protection against sexually transmitted diseases. "I'll promote anything that promotes the health of women," she said.
Debbie Ship, director of corporate marketing at Pharmascience Inc., a distributor of the new condom, said although this product was approved in November of 1996, it has taken until now to organize packaging and finalize an exclusive agreement with the American Female Health Company who holds the patent.
Dan Wilson, safer sex educator at the AIDS Committee of London, said although this is very good news, the female condoms are hideously over-priced at $3 to $4 per condom.
"It is empowering to women to be able to make safe sex choices yet historically this is the group which has been economically disadvantaged and they are still getting hit with a more expensive condom," Wilson said.
As for the cost, Ship said it is a direct result of product development for the condom, adding there is an established worldwide price offered to clinics who cannot afford to pay retail.
Wilson added use of the female condom is not restricted to heterosexual couples and added he believes this device may further encourage people to maintain a safe sex attitude while adding variety to their sex life.
Fred Lapner, medical advisor of the medical devices bureau with the health protection branch of Health Canada, said approval of similar-type products to the female condom fall under the Food and Drug Act.
The regulations in place under this Act regarding safety, labelling efficacy and manufacturing quality must all be satisfied in order to ensure sales of the medical female device is effective in its aim to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy, Lapner said.