HEALTHY LIVING

The Newly Retooled Female Condom

03/28/2008 02:45 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

The female condom has never caught on in the United States. But in the third world, where it was introduced in the late 1990s, public health workers hoped it would overthrow the politics of the bedroom, empower women and stop the AIDS epidemic in its tracks.

It did not. Female condoms never really caught on there, either.

Only about 12 million female condoms are delivered each year in poor countries, compared with about 6 billion male condoms. Couples complained that the female version was awkward, unsightly, noisy and slippery -- or, as Mitchell Warren, who was one of its earliest champions, now says, "the yuck factor was a problem." Many women tried it, but in the end, it was adopted mainly by prostitutes.

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