UHS Considers 'Female Condoms'

Committee to Decide If New Product Will Be Available for Student Use

The "female condom," the first women's contraceptive to protect effectively against sexually transmitted disease, is likely to be sold at the University Health Services (UHS) pharmacy, according to Director of Pharmacy William J. Madden.

"It would probably go to a committee of peer contraceptive counselors who would determine if it were applicable to student use," Madden said. "I wouldn't be surprised if we would carry them."

An advisory panel of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week recommended conditional approval for the newly-developed contraceptive. Madden said that if the condom wins final approval from the FDA, it may be placed on the UHS shelves shortly afterward.

Peer contraceptive counselor Laura A. Rosenbury '92 said that if the UHS pharmacy carries the condom, her office will definitely provide it as well.

"We haven't yet decided if we are going to have it in our office if the pharmacy doesn't carry it," Rosenbury said.


"I can't predict how people will react to it," Rosenbury added. "A lot of people are satisfied with using [male] condoms as a method of birth control and of protection, and people are resistant to change. But it is innovative and people like to try things at least once."

The female condom, a polyurethane pouch which is inserted into the vaginal canal, received an FDA recommendation for marketing approval pending the fulfillment of several conditions. These include the completion of a pregnancy prevention study, development of a more accurate direction insert and further testing of used condoms for tears and leakage.

Despite the delays demanded by the panel's stipulations, the device is expected to be available to consumers before the end of the year.

Rosenbury said she is concerned about problems which the existence of the device could cause for women.

"There are a lot of gender issues involved with the marketing of this product," she said. "We have to be careful that women do not become the sole party responsible for contraception and [sexually transmitted diseases] prevention."

Many students interviewed reacted positively to the new contraceptives.

"I think any developments in birth control are good, especially when they don't involve drugs," said Liz R. Mermin '93.

Owi S. Ruivivar '92 said the condom reflects an increase in birth control research that has lagged recently.

"It will give women a greater variety of safe birth control methods than they have had access to," she said.