The Woman’s Condom & EECO: A user-centered approach to addressing the unmet need for family planning
September 16, 2014
By: Nora Miller
An often underrated, non-hormonal method that has the dual-benefit of protecting against STIs as well as unwanted pregnancy, the female condom has the potential to change the landscape of contraceptive options for women worldwide. Female condoms are woman-initiated, and have a similar effectiveness as male condoms with the added benefits to women that they are relatively cost-effective and have a low risk of side effects compared to other methods.
Despite the many advantages of the female condom, uptake has been low due to various barriers to adoption. For one thing, the female condom can be difficult to insert without proper guidance and counseling. Additionally, it can be a challenge for many women to negotiate condom use within their relationships. Proponents of woman-controlled barrier methods have suggested that it might be time for an updated condom design to address these issues.
In an exciting breakthrough for female condom advocates, developers at PATH have engaged users around the world as co-designers in creating a friendlier female condom known as the Woman’s Condom. This second-generation product offers many improved features including increased sensation, ease of insertion and removal, and a secure fit during use. After several years of product-design R&D, the new challenge for the Woman’s Condom will be how to get this improved method into the hands of the women that need them.
As part of the Expanding Effective Contraceptive Options (EECO) project, Woman Care Global is mobilizing the expertise of global partners to introduce the Woman’s Condom in emerging markets and to create demand for this important method. In addition to registration and distribution of the Woman’s Condom, EECO will rely on formative research and follow-up with both providers and consumers to refine market segmentation strategies and to provide the necessary support for effective roll-out of this new product. With an innovative, user-centered design and a fresh approach to understanding the needs of end-users, the Woman’s Condom and EECO promise to fill the gap of the unmet need for modern family planning.