Female Condom: Nigerian women yet to embrace usage
By CHIOMA OBINNA
AS the world observed the 2013 Global Female Condom Day, the Female Condom is yet to find its place in the hearts of many Nigerian women. Statistics show that less than two percent of Nigerian women are using condoms.
Female condoms are made from thin, soft plastic called polyurethane and are worn inside the birth canal to prevent semen getting to the womb.
When used correctly during vaginal sex, female condoms help to protect against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
In a statement to mark the Day, the United State Agency International Development, USAID, said the day was designed to increase awareness, access, and use of female condoms.
According to the statement, “as the only woman-initiated product capable of offering dual protection from pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, the female condom is a vital tool to protect women’s reproductive health and combat the HIV pandemic, ultimately helping to create an AIDS-free generation.”
Programme Manager, New HIV Vaccines and Microbicides Advocacy Society, Dr. Florita Durueke, said lack of awareness and inaccessibility are some of the challenges to use of female condoms in the country.
Durueke, who spoke at a recent forum in Lagos, said that the cost and technical application were some of the other issues discouraging the use of condoms among women.
The female condom is designed to empower women and girls make informed reproductive health choices.
Resident Representative, UNFPA, Ms. Victoria Akyeampong, observed that it was essential to provide access to female condoms for women in Nigeria. “Unlike other methods of contraceptive, the female condom is unpopular and often overlooked by end users. Findings from Nigeria’s Demographic Health Surveys reveals that 35 percent of unmarried woimen use the male condom in contrast to 0.2 percent who use the female condom.
Findings show that Nigerian women are yet to understand the importance of female condom while many have never set their eyes on the only vital tool capable of protecting women’s reproductive health.
The United State Food and Drug Administration, FDA, had approved the second generation of the female condom (FC2). Made of nitrile (synthetic latex)
The World Health Organisation, WHO, concluded in 2006 that the FC2 was comparable to the FC1 in both safety and effectiveness, and when used consistently and correctly, female condoms are just as effective as male condoms.
Experts also believe that promoting the female condom is a cost-effective intervention, particularly given the high cost of HIV treatment and other prevention interventions, as well as when the use of male condoms is not a viable option.
Meanwhile, the UNFPA, recently donated four million female condoms to the Society for Family Health as part of universal access to female condom.
Used correctly and consistently, female condoms are 95 percent effective.