Colin Parker, marketing director of Family Planning Sales, the commercial arm of the Family Planning Association, which supplies the clinics, said: 'I honestly can't remember a faster take-up of a new product at its launch, in 20 years.'
While it is not the contraceptive of choice among teenagers, managers of Brook advisory clinics which supply it say there has been 'a lot of demand' in the 20-plus age group. 'Some of this is obviously curiosity. But this shows a need for some new contraception method in which young women can take control of their bodies.
'It will be very encouraging if this method is sustained in young people and we will be looking at the response at the end of three months,' a spokeswoman for Brook said.
But the female contraceptive is finding favour among men as well. 'There is anecdotal evidence that it is popular as it does not affect sexual behaviour - intercourse is not spoiled for a man, who does not have to withdraw immediately, as he does with a male condom,' she said.
Femidom, which costs about pounds 3.95 for a pack of three, is being sold in chemists' and supermarkets but is free in the family planning clinics that stock it.
Mr Parker said that so far 70,000 female condoms had been supplied to family planning clinics. 'It seems that it may be particuarly popular with young women who may find it difficult to negotiate the use of a male condom with their partner.
'Evidence so far is that couples need to use the female condom about three times to become fully familiar and comfortable with it.'