25 August 2017

Uganda Rebrands Female Condoms to Make Them Attractive to Men

Photo: Julie Vandal/IRIN
Female condom (file photo).

Many Ugandan men refuse women, who use female condoms. Unlike male condoms, they say female condoms look unpleasant, bulky, less lubricated and noisy. But that's about to change due to an attractive new brand.

Mysteries continue to surround the use of female condoms in Uganda since its introduction in 1998. According to the Uganda Health Marketing Group, the official distributor of contraceptives, Ugandans have only used 1.2 million pieces of these condoms since the first procurement in 2015. The figure is quite low compared to other African nations, where the prevalence rate of sexually transmitted diseases like HIV is quite high.

When the World Health Organization rolled out guidelines for procurement of female condoms in 2012, health experts globally welcomed the idea. It was viewed as another way of preventing new HIV infections.

However, since the introduction of the policy, female condoms have not been well adopted in many African societies.

In Uganda, tons of unused female condoms are still laying on government storage facilities around the country due to lack of interest in them. Unlike male condoms, which are in high demand, many Ugandans have never seen or used female condoms.

During a sensitization campaign on the use of female condoms, Stella Adoch, a newspaper vendor was shocked to see a female condom. It was her first time holding it in her hands.

"When I saw the female condom I was curios to know how it works. I carried it home but my husband kept asking me questions why I had it in my bag. Later on, I decided to flash it down the toilet because I did not have answers to the questions he was raising," Adoch said.

Paul Okello, a tailor also told DW that he had only used the female condom once but did not like the experience. "I used it once out of curiosity. I didn't enjoy the sex because the thing [condom] was rough and noisy. It was generally unpleasant," he said.

Robert Sebukyu from Uganda's Health and Marketing group, which is in charge of distributing contraceptives in the country, said they are introducing a new brand of female condoms to make them look more attractive and appealing, especially to men.

"We want to source for condoms that are well lubricated to the satisfaction of the users we are also carrying on campaigns to address, because some of the noise that people are complaining about is because they wrongly insert the condoms so we are carrying on campaigns on how to properly insert the condoms so that they mitigate the noisy complaints," Sebukyu said.

In side the group's warehouse, Sebukyu and his team pack consignments of the new female condoms for dispatch around the country. These condoms, he said, were introduced to replace the old unattractive ones.

Sebukyu hopes that this brightly white colored packaging with a red female symbol and 'Female Condom' written in bold blue will be attractive enough to both Ugandan men and women.

How to wear female condoms

A female condom is a sheath that is worn inside the vagina during sexual intercourse to prevent pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV.

Unlike male condoms which are put on just before sex or during foreplay, females are required to insert the condom at least eight hours before time. This means that there will be no interruptions during sexual intercourse.

To insert the condom the woman has to either squat, put one foot on the chair, kind of like how women where tampons.

The woman will then squeeze the inner part of the ring with her fingers and slide it inside her vagina. The ring should go up to her cervix. Once done, she will pull out her finger and let the outer ring hang about an inch outside the vagina.

When taking the condom out, twist the outer ring to keep the semen from coming out of the pouch.

Female condoms are larger than male condoms and don't fit snugly around the penis. Because the female condom does not depend on an erection to stay in place, your partner does not have to withdraw immediately after ejaculation as they would with a male condom.

Frank Yiga in Kampala contributed to this report.

Uganda

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