Abstract

The project’s overall objective was to design and implement a pilot experience for the promotion of the FC among Uruguayan youth and teens over 15 years of age, in the understanding that the approach towards S&RH among teenagers calls for specific designs and implementations where various adaptations, ranging from methodology to communications, must be considered. The project was carried out between February and December 2018 by a technical team from “Iniciativas Sanitarias” (IPPF), under the supervision of an Advisory Committee whose members were: Ana Labandera (Executive Director at IS), Gabriela Píriz (Director of the Sexual and Reproductive Health Area of the ASSE Metropolitan PCN), Mónica Gorgoroso (Sexual and Reproductive Health Area of ASSE), and Juan José Meré (UNFPA´s Advisor on HIV issues).

Studies carried out have clearly evidenced that women who use FC have expressed very positive opinions (87% in 2014, 76% in 2015, 77% in 2016, and 86% in 2017); and a high number of such women would be willing to continue using it in the future (84% in 2014, 70% in 2015, 81% in 2016, and 82% in 2017). Additionally, based on empirical evidence, it was possible to identify the two main fields that encounter the main problems in guaranteeing access to the method: distribution logistics and reluctance by some health professionals to proactively include the FC in advice regarding P&BCM. It is clear that, for the FC to become a protection and birth control option for numerous females and males, it will be necessary to guarantee access to the method and to develop information and dissemination campaigns, apart from implementing a strong training strategy for health care teams.

Study population

  • The total number of teenagers and youth surveyed during the study amounted to 212 cases, divided into 96 males and 116 females.
  • Regarding the age of the population surveyed, the average age is 16.4 years old. Most of them are between 12 and 14 years (38.3%) and between 15 and 16 years (23.5%).

Experience

  • In what concerns difficulties to put on the condom or complications during its use, over half of those who used it expressed not having any difficulty (56%)

Evaluation

  • All individuals contacted for the follow-up provided an assessment on the method, which proved quite positive: 79% of the adolescents stated that they considered it a good or very good method.
  • Among those who actually used it, the assessment maintains the same positive ratio: 80% stated that the female condom was good or very good. As evidenced in the previous follow-up experiences, the main reason for not using was the absence of sexual relations during the period monitored.
    The assessment by gender indicates that 89% of the males and 75% of the females said that the method was good or very good, with the positive assessment by males being slightly higher than among females.
  • When asked if they would use it in the future, the main answer was Yes (40%) maybe on some occasion, while 27% didn’t know, and 24% stated it was possible. Only 9% said they would not use it. This answer indicates, once again, that with advice and closeness to the female condom, the method could be deemed as a protection and birth control option.
  • On the advantages of the FC:
    • Female autonomy 19.5%
    • Material & lubrication 24.4%
    • Possibility of putting it in prior to intercourse 24.4%
    • Added to a P&BCM 17.1%
    • Other 14.6%
    • Total 100%

Quotes from study participants

  • "You don’t get pregnant; it was another material different from latex. You are protected against diseases.” (Teenager, Focus group 3)
  • "Some guys will tell you that they don’t use it because they can’t feel anything or because it’s too tight and things like that, right? But if you wear it there will be no tightness for him. That’s an advantage, and there are no excuses. Or if he’s allergic to latex, like they say.” (Teenager, Focus group 1)
  • “If your partner doesn’t want to wear a condom, you wear it and you protect yourself against diseases. - So, you think it’s a good choice? - Yes, even when there’s people who don’t want to use it … if you come to think of it… - Did it ever happen to you that you have intercourse or about to have it and the other person doesn’t want to use protection at all? - Thousands of times. - Almost always.” (Teenagers, Focus group 2)

Summary

  • A positive assessment of the method was the opinion of those who used it, with 80% of them stating that the method was good or very good. 40% of the users of the female condom asserted that they would continue using it in the future, and 24% expressed that continued use was a possibility. As the trend shown in previous studies, the main reason for not using FC was the absence of sexual intercourse during the study´s monitoring period (55%).

(Translated into English and adapted from the original publication ‘Experiencia Piloto de Promoción del Condón Femenino en Adolescentes y Jóvenes de Uruguay)

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