Background: The female condom is a viable option for women to protect themselves from HIV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Goal: The goal was to examine the level of female condom use and factors associated with frequency of use among US women living in San Francisco and Oakland, California.
Study design: Of 238 women recruited from family planning clinics from July 1998 to April 1999, 206 were interviewed at both baseline and 3-month follow-up (a 92% retention rate).
Results: We observed a significant increase in vaginal sexual acts protected by the female condom during the study but no reduction in male condom use. Overall, 82% of women reported using a female condom at least once, but the proportion of sexual acts protected by the female condom was only 17%. Multivariate analyses showed that female condom use was associated with suggesting female condom use to one's partner, less concern about device appearance, and a partner's positive attitude about the female condom.
Conclusion: Our data indicate that female condom use supplements male condom use and leads to an increase in protected sex. The results also suggest that attitudinal and communication factors can increase female condom use.