Lilian Tamako talks about the female condom
Lilian Tamako is 25 years old, and a nursing student.
Bamenda, Cameroon, 02 November, 2010
How did you first learn about the female condom?
I tried it for the first time about four years ago. I did not like it very much at that time but later I realised that I bought the condom without really knowing how to use it. After that first experience I didn’t see the condoms for a while. Last year all of a sudden they were back. I met a group of peer educators on the market talking to a group of women. I stopped to listen. They demonstrated how to use it and so I learned. After that I tried it again and it was a lot easier for me.
So I would say that my first experience was not really good but the second first experience was different because of the educators and so I learned to like it.
So you were more confident because of the peer education you had?
Yes, the way they demonstrated it was good. I really grasped the concept.
Why do you think female condoms are important?
Because it gives the woman the upper hand. It gives women a choice. Even if the man does not want to use a condom, you can insist that you want to use yours! I think it gives women a boost because they are taken into considerations. It is about the well being of women and I like that.
How did your partner react when you suggested to use the female condom?
To be very honest, most men including my man do not initially accept it. It takes a bit of convincing because the thing is, we fear things that we don’t really know. When I first introduced it to my man, at least he had heard about it and he had been seeing the adverts on TV. He had problems with condoms in general, especially the male condom, but I told him he would not be the one wearing it but me and so he needed to accept it. And actually he has learned to like it.
Had both of you been using the male condom before?
No. Our sex life was not really good because he never liked using condoms. For that reason I was never really interested in sex because he travels a lot and I am not sure of what he does when he travels and things like that. As a matter of fact, one time the male condom burst and I was scared and traumatised for months! But since we started using the female condom nothing of such has ever occurred and so I am now comfortable with sex again.
Since you started using the female condom, have you gone back to the male condom?
Not really, except for a few times when the female condom was not available. At least now he is a little more comfortable with the idea of condoms but really he prefers the female condom to the male condom, just as I do.
Have you tried other contraceptive measures?
No, I am not yet married and I have not yet any children so I think a condom is the most convenient. I don’t need to consult a doctor to use the female condom as long as I know how to use it. I just check the expiry date and if I see that it’s ok I can use it. So for now I would like to stick to the female condom.
Do you know any friends that also use the female condom?
Well I have introduced the female condom to some of my friends. Some are enthusiastic about it, others have not really shown interest. Some of my friends were at first a bit scared that it could get lost in their vagina. I think it is important to educate people about the female condom to take the fear away. At least I know from some of my friends that they use it with their husbands.
How affordable are the female condoms?
Well the female condom is ofcourse more expensive than the male condom. So for some people this might be a problem.
But considering the security and the comfort that it involves, it is ok for me.
Is the female condom always available when you need it?
At first it was not and most of the stores around my house did not sell the female condom. But recently, let’s say since last year, it is always available. I believe this is a very positive development because of the risk we are all facing. HIV is really spreading fast and also unwanted pregnancies still happen a lot.
From your own experience, do you have a message to other people?
My message would be that people should not be afraid of something they don’t know. Just listen to women that educate and demonstrate and try it yourself. You will not be dissapointed!