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November 2009 Issue

Michael Thomas, MD, is a fertility expert and contraceptive researcher.
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Female Condom Offers Women Viable Alternative

By Angela Koenig
Published November 2009

The advantage of the female condom is twofold: It acts as a contraceptive and helps protect against sexually transmitted diseases, says Michael Thomas, MD, the principal investigator on a new study to determine the efficacy of a recently developed brand of female condom.

Thomas and his team at UC Health’s Center for Reproductive Health have been awarded a $608,000 grant to study a particular female condom and its design improvements.

Thomas is a UC Health fertility specialist and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the UC College of Medicine.

Female condoms have been on the market for over a decade, with two brands currently available. The brand that Thomas and 12 other university centers across the country will study was developed by PATH, an international nonprofit organization that strives to create “sustainable, culturally relevant solutions, enabling communities worldwide to break longstanding cycles of poor health.” 

According to PATH, this condom has design changes which permit easier insertion and increased sensation while also providing protection against sexually transmitted disease.

The funding to study the PATH condom comes from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, whose focus is to develop safe and effective contraceptives for women.

When one looks at condoms in general, says Thomas, less than 10 percent of the U.S. population uses either male or female condoms, and 54 percent of the male condoms purchased are purchased by women. This shows, he says, that women are already attuned to taking responsibility for their sexual health.

In addition to empowering women to make their own health decisions, the female condom also addresses the alternative of non-hormonal birth control which can be applied prior to sexual activity.

The 2˝-year study will follow a minimum of 200 women in six-month increments.

For more information about the study and enrollment eligibility, contact the UC Center for Reproductive Health at (513) 584-4100.

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