Experts say it is more pleasurable and puts power in the hands of women
Kampala, Uganda | FLAVIA NASSAKA | A new condom said to be more pleasurable is undergoing tests to be used in Uganda. The ‘panty condom’, as it is called, has already been given a greenlight by the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology.
The condom is a combination of lingerie and a contraceptive made of polyurethane and intended for a one time use. It is anti-allergic and has been made with thinner than usual layer meant to make one have a no-condom feel, says Dr. Moses Muwonge, the Executive Director SAMASHA Medical Foundation, a local non-profit promoting the condom.
Made by a Columbian manufacturer, Innova Quality, the condom is likely to hit the market by October, according to Muwonge. This will be after six months of acceptability studies expected to start at Makerere University soon.
Once they are on the market, Muwonge anticipates that Uganda will be the hub of the device on the continent because his non-profit has secured a contract to supply the condom to the whole of Africa.
Muwonge is excited that women will this time have something that puts them in control.
“Women are frustrated by men who don’t want to use condoms,” Muwonge told The Independent, “We are now telling them that don’t remove your panty if you are not sure your man has condom. This panty is your security.”
He explained that one can wear the panty all day and only expose the device when about to have intercourse. “You only have to flip the slit”, Muwonge says as he demonstrates how it is used. The panty has an opening which exposes the condom that looks no different from the current male condom. Once exposed, the condom unrolls on the penis during penetration.
A 2009 study on female condom use in Uganda by the Ministry of Health revealed that female condoms were mostly being taken up by sex workers but Muwonge is not targeting these.
He is aiming for a stylish corporate lady, a young woman or an adolescent girl. This is partly why the condom is in form of a G-string, a type of panty popular among that group. This group is also the most affected by HIV in Uganda.
Preliminary results of the Uganda Population based HIV Impact Assessment survey released last year show prevalence among this group of 15 to 24 years was at 7.6% compared to males at 4.7%.
But Muwonge says the new condom targets men too. For him, once men realize that if they do not carry a condom, a woman will have one they will also start carrying one. In addition he says, the panty looks good for both sexes.
‘A search for a more pleasurable condom’
Vastha Kibirige, the Condom Coordination Officer at Ministry of Health, who has been in the condom business for more than twenty years is as excited and full of anticipation as Muwonge. This is exactly how Kibirige and her colleagues at PATH an NGO that specializes in health innovation felt in 1998 when a ‘Fermidome’ also known as FC 1 was introduced in Uganda.
“We said finally women have got something they can control” she said,” we got a million condoms and divided them. We planned to give out half through the public sector and half through social marketing.”
But he says that most of the women looked at the condom—a large slippery device with a ring at the bottom– as something weird.