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June 28, 2001
Female condom awareness campaign launched
Toronto Public Health --- A social marketing campaign is being
launched by Toronto Public Health to increase awareness of use of the female
condom to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies.

Each year in Toronto, about 20,000 women have an unplanned pregnancy and 5,000
women are infected with sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.

"Although there is broad acceptance of the male condom, there are still many
women who have not been able to get their partners to use one," said Dr. Sheela
Basrur, Toronto's Medical Officer of Health. "The female condom provides
another option."

Community agencies that work with women at high risk of unplanned pregnancy and
sexually transmitted diseases are working in partnership with Toronto Public
Health to increase awareness of and access to the female condom among women,
their male partners and health care providers. Posters and brochures are being
distributed to targeted communities and are available on the City's Web site at

The Female Health Company holds the worldwide patent for the female condom. The
product is marketed and distributed in North America under the name Reality

For more information about the female condom and to find out where it is
available, call the Public Health AIDS and Sexual Health InfoLine at


What is a female condom?

The female condom is a pre-lubricated loose-fitting sheath made of polyurethane
and licensed by Health Canada.

It provides protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV for
both women and men as it covers the external and internal genitalia.

The sheath has two flexible rings that allow for both positioning and anchoring
in the vagina.

Who is the target of this campaign?
Sexually active adult women and their male partners.

Posters and information pamphlets will be distributed to community social
service agencies, clinics, doctor's offices, some pharmacies, bars, nightclubs
and hair dressing salons.

A pilot study will be conducted to evaluate the success of the female condom.

Why the female condom?
Due to social and gender inequalities, as well as issues of sexual pleasure and
intimacy, women are not always able to get their partners to use the male
condom. The female condom offers women an option.

Although STDs/ HIV affect both men and women, the physiology of the female body
makes women more susceptible to infection.

What are the benefits of the female condom?
It can be placed in the women's vagina from eight hours to immediately before
intercourse and it does not need to be removed immediately afterwards. This
allows for more spontaneity.

Compared to latex, polyurethane is stronger, conducts body heat better and does
not cause irritation or allergic reaction.

The female condom is durable, long lasting, odourless, and impermeable to
humidity and temperature.

It can be used with both water and oil-based lubricants.

It compares favourably with other barrier methods in contraception studies.

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