Rates of unintended pregnancy, maternal mortality, and HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STI) among women are unacceptably high around the world. An estimated 225 million women in developing countries have an unmet need for contraception, and women comprise 50 percent of adults living with HIV globally. Each year an estimated 500 million people become infected with a curable STI.
The female condom is the only woman initiated technology available today that provides dual protection from both unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Female condoms also provide an option for women seeking contraceptive protection without hormones or side effects, they can be used only when needed and without seeing a health provider, and they can enhance communication and sexual pleasure for some couples. Female condoms also empower women with a tool to initiate safer sex.
While female condoms have been available for 20 years, availability and use of this lifesaving product around the world has remained low. Although global frameworks and national policies recognize female condoms as a vital component of family planning and STI/HIV prevention programming, country governments and donors have only partially implemented these policies—primarily due to limited funding, competing budget priorities, and lingering questions about the product category. Investment to support training, programming, and market development—including demand generation—has been insufficient. Female condoms have not yet been fully embraced by many family planning or STI/HIV prevention programs, which has hindered access and use.