Female Condoms’ Failure Rate Over Long-Term Use

Female Condom demonstrator

Female Condom demonstrator

It seems like everyone is talking about female condoms lately. Maybe your friend has just tried it, or someone else swears by them, but mainstream awareness of the contraceptive measure seems to be growing by the day.

One thing that’s on everybody’s mind: its failure rate.

The Guttmacher Institute (headquartered in New York and Washington D.C.) is way ahead of the curve on this one, having done a female condom usage study on this back in 2005 (almost a decade ago!). From 1995-1998, they observed 869 women ages 18-35 within 2 STI clinics. The control group received only male condoms to use, while the variable group got both female condoms and male condoms as a back-up measure. The women were educated on female condom use. Prior to the study, only three women had used a female condom, and 95% practiced inserting it at the clinic.

The study found that 11% of female condoms slipped out at first use, while declined to less than 1% when used over 15 times. Overall, 3% of all female condoms slipped out, out of 7K+ female condoms used.

For comparison, 7% of male condoms broke when used for the first time, and declined to 2% when used over 15 times. Three percent of male condoms overall broke during use, out of 12K+ male condoms used.

I couldn’t find any studies on female condom use over the long-term from more recent times (within the past five years or so), so it’ll be interesting to see whether the new cultural awareness of the method will result in more people using female condoms more frequently.


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