"We have a product that is safe and effective, but underutilized. What if we could develop a condom that would provide all the benefit of our current versions, without the drawbacks? Even better, what if we could develop one that was preferred to no condom?"- The Gates Foundation
Earlier this year, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced that they were offering a $100,000 grant to anyone with credible plans to develop the “next generation condom.” Why do we need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to safe sex? Because condoms are not as widely utilized as they should be. Many people forego safe sex because they perceive that condoms will decrease their sexual pleasure. Therefore, if we could develop a condom that felt just as good as unprotected sex, it could have a major impact on rates of sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies. As it turns out, we may not be that far away from such an invention.
Behold the Origami condom, the first major redesign of the condom in nearly a century. The Origami Male Condom is described as “the first non-rolled, injection-molded, engineered, silicone condom intended to facilitate a pleasurable and safe sexual experience.” It simulates the way that unprotected sex normally feels for the wearer by enhancing sensations inside the condom itself. Check out the slightly awkward video below to see just how this works.
Also, given that the condom is made of silicone instead of latex, it is likely to result in fewer allergy issues (some people are allergic to latex), and the wide base at the bottom may provide even greater STI protection than a traditional male condom. The other advantage is that the Origami goes on easier and is designed to be less likely to slip off, which may ultimately decrease condom use errors.
In addition to offering a male condom, the company also plans to release an Origami female condom as well as condom designed specifically for receptive anal intercourse. These condoms are also made of silicone and are designed to be easy to use and to mimic the sensations of unprotected sex (at least for the insertive partner—Origami claims that all of their condoms “facilitate a pleasurable…experience for both partners,” but it's not clear whether Origami condoms enhance pleasure for the receptive partner beyond standard condoms).
Origami condoms are currently in the clinical research phase to determine health and safety. Assuming they meet testing standards and receive FDA approval, we could see these condoms on the market as soon as 2015. Here’s hoping for a safer and even more pleasurable future!