The Enduring Unpopularity Of The Female Condom

A tubular sheath with rings on both ends -- that’s how the United Nations describes “the only female initiated dual protection device that is believed to be effective at preventing STIs and pregnancy.” After being inserted vaginally or anally, it prevents the passage of fluids from one person to another. It feels much like a conventional condom, even if it looks much more ungainly at first.

Given their simple design, it’s likely that internal condoms, more commonly known as female condoms, have been used in some form for ages. In fact, the first recorded condom use refers to a female condom. The poisoned semen of King Minos, who lived around 3000 BCE, supposedly led to the deaths of multiple mistresses. Therefore, according to legend, Minos fashioned an internal condom out of a goat’s bladder to protect his sexual partners. Little has changed but the lore: In the place of scorpions, snakes, and woodlice -- the reported sources of Minos’s poison -- today we fear the viruses that might lurk in bodily fluids.

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