The female condom was introduced in 2000 in Ghana as a means to empower women to protect themselves against Sexually Transmitted Disease (STDs) and unwanted pregnancies.
Eleven years after its introduction, however patronage remains extremely low, raising doubts about its successes.
The female condom remains yet one of health professionals’ last hopes to fight HIV/AIDS and STD’s.
The female condom thus provides barriers to the spread of the disease and to prevent unwanted pregnancies. It also remains one last weapon to a woman to take charge of her life during sexual intercourse.
The female condom or FC2 was introduced in Ghana in 2000 with a huge anticipation of contributing to reproductive health of women. Since its introduction into the country by the Ghana health service it has recorded a staggering low patronage.
Figures released by the Ghana health service shows that between 2000 and 2011 a total of 556,694 female condoms have been released into the system.
Some women who were interviewed indicate their complete distaste for the product.
Most women spoken to say the method of inserting the female condom is very embarrassing, making them feel bad when they talk about it much more using it.
Others also feel it is too noisy during sexual intercourse.
Some women who were approached to express their views on the matter were embarrassed talking about it, an indication of the precarious nature of the situation.
Both Scientists and advocates have justified the introduction of the female condom among them.
Apart from its protective nature the female condom can be inserted in advance of sexual intercourse. Up to 8 hours has been given as ample time to do this.
The Female Condom has the same length as the male condom, but slightly wider so that it comfortably lines the woman's vagina. Doctors say it is not designed to tightly cover the man's penis.
The outer ring or frame is visible outside the vagina, which can make some women feel self-conscious.
Some doctors agree that it has a higher failure rate in preventing pregnancy than non-barrier methods such as the pill. This is because the condom when worn is only suitable for certain positions.
The female condom is not only causing disaffection among women as men are not in favour of the product. Again some men who were interviewed are against their wives or girlfriends using the female condom during sex.
Globally, availability and distribution of female condoms is said to have increased significantly in the past few years. In 2009 around 26 million female condoms were provided through international and non-governmental funding sources, compared to 10.7 million in 2006.
However, the global distribution of female condoms is still far less than that of male condoms according to the world health organization report.
A visit to some pharmacies in the capital Accra shows that availability of female condoms is scarce. Some pharmacists say people do not request them. According to pharmacists stocking the female condom patronage is low.
One female condom costs 3 pesewas. A male condom on the other hand costs 10 pesewas for 3 to 4 pieces in government pharmacies.
In private pharmacies 3 to 4 pieces of some low rated condoms are selling at between 30 and 50 pesewas.
The female condom is supplied to Ghana at subsidized prices by the UNFPA and donor agencies.
The current situation has become a major worry to the Ghana health service which is considering a re-launch of the female condom after 11 years.
Currently education on the use of female condoms has seized.
Dr Yaa Asante, Programmes Manager at the family health division of the Ghana health service says the re-launch has become necessary due to the inability of the health service to sustain education on the matter.
Reasons given by interviewees for not using includes, Condoms diminish pleasure or enjoyment of sex, Condoms ruin the mood, one cannot feel anything while wearing a condom, In order for sex to be real, flesh must come into contact with flesh and some people even think it is sin to use condoms during sex
With the tide closing in on the eventual collapse of the product, health officials believe the re-launch will inject some energy and excitement into its usage.