Contraceptive development has taken a new direction in the face of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome epidemic, the high incidence of teenage pregnancy, and the need for acceptable, female-controlled family planning methods. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are a particular problem, as women suffer most of their consequences, including pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and tubal pregnancy. Heterosexual transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) accounts for the alarming increase in its incidence in reproductive-age women. Thus, new contraceptive strategies must be sought. Needed is a safe, female-controlled method that would be effective in preventing both pregnancy and the transmission of STDs, including HIV.
The female condom is a welcome addition, but its contraceptive and STD prevention efficacy need further study. There is an 11% to 15% rate of accidental pregnancy at 6 months for women who use the the female condom (similar to rates for other barrier contraceptive methods for women); however, rates
Wentz AC, Huggins GR. Obstetrics and Gynecology. JAMA. 1994;271(21):1689-1691. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510450061034