Expanding options for dual protection
High rates of unintended pregnancy, maternal mortality, and HIV infection among women worldwide emphasize the need for prevention tools that are designed with women’s realities in mind. The female condom is the only woman-initiated technology available today that protects from both unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV. Female condoms are a good option for women and their partners who seek contraceptive protection without hormones or side effects, who need “dual protection” from pregnancy and STIs, and who want a method that can be used without seeing a health provider. In spite of these benefits, availability and uptake of existing female condom products has been low in many places.
To help bring additional lifesaving dual protection options to women and men, PATH and our partners developed the Woman’s Condom, a second-generation female condom. The Woman’s Condom was designed to provide dual protection and to be highly acceptable and pleasurable. It has special design features that enable easy insertion, secure fit during use, good sensation, and easy removal. Read more >>
With funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under CONRAD, PATH developed the Woman’s Condom over a six-year period with input from women and couples on four continents. Engaging users as co-designers helped us develop a highly acceptable new female condom positioned to meet the needs of a diverse range of users. Read more >>
Clinically proven protection
The Woman’s Condom has undergone clinical research in several countries over the past ten years. Clinical studies confirm that the product is safe, acceptable, easy to use, and that it performs well. In comparative studies, some women have reported preferring the Woman’s Condom over other female condom products because it is easy to use. Meanwhile, PATH and partners are conducting qualitative assessments and market research to help set the stage for product introduction. Read more >>
Market development, introduction, and advocacy
In 2008, PATH transferred production of the Woman’s Condom to the Dahua Medical Apparatus Company (Dahua) of Shanghai, China. In 2011, PATH received funding from the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs to support the Protection Options for Women (POW) Product Development Partnership among Dahua, CONRAD, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development, and PATH. Together we are building supply, verifying safety and efficacy, and developing markets for the Woman’s Condom. We are also raising awareness and engaging in advocacy to help create an enabling environment for female condoms in general.
The Woman’s Condom has the South Africa Bureau of Standards (SABS) mark of quality for the South African market, the CE Mark for the European market, and Shanghai Food and Drug Administration approval for the China market. The product is commercially available in select markets, and the POW is testing market strategies in China and South Africa to help build towards a more sustainable market for the Woman’s Condom. Read more >>
PATH received support from many donors to develop, validate, and build markets for the Woman’s Condom. We gratefully acknowledge support from USAID under the CONRAD program and the PATH HealthTech program, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Universal Access to Female Condoms, the Lemelson Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and others.