New condoms eyed for men, women

A California-based company is looking at new condom designs, including a male non-rolled silicone condom, a female silicone condom, and a silicone condom designed specifically for receptive anal intercourse. All three designs of Origami condoms are in early research stages at Culver City, CA-based Strata Various Product Designs.

The Origami Male Condom is a unique, non-rolled, one-size-fits-all condom, made of biocompatible silicone, says Ray Chavez, project coordinator. It is designed to help resolve many of the issues that have prevented the rolled latex condom to be used consistently and correctly, he notes; for example, its non-rolled design will allow a quick, easily managed donning procedure. The focus of the new design is aimed at providing pleasure for both partners while affording increased safety and protection, he notes.

"Pre-clinical testing at a leading independent microbiology lab showed the material was 100% viral impermeable, compared with one of the leading brand of latex condoms, which had a 5% failure for viral permeability," states Chavez. "This test was repeated with pinholes punctured into the condom walls, and the results were again 100% viral impermeable in both directions with the silicone prototype."

A pilot study of the male condom was conducted in 2005 by the California Family Health Council in Los Angeles. The device was further developed in research and development for a subsequent Phase I feasibility & acceptability study by the council, scheduled to begin in August 2011. The National Institutes of Health contributed funds toward the Phase I trial, says Chavez.

The Origami female condom is designed with a no-fumble insertion method, part of a patent-pending feature based on a user-friendly telescoping design. The condom is inserted as a small dome-shaped cap that lodges in the vagina. The condom then deploys to its full length at the start of intercourse. Phase I testing also is scheduled for 2011 at the San Francisco office of RTI International.

Phase 1 testing has begun at the Boston-based Fenway Institute Research Center for the Origami R.A.I. Condom, an inserted, dedicated device designed for receptive anal intercourse. The active male partner does not need to wear a male condom at all, thus simulating the sensation of sex without a condom, explains Chavez. It is the first condom ever designed for this use, he states.

More designs equals more use?

Will these new condom designs offer more choices for different "endowments"? asks Anita Nelson, MD, professor in the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California in Los Angeles. Men's penile dimensions vary widely, and the size limitations of condoms impede condom use, points out a recent editorial co-authored by Nelson.1

According to a 2010 study, men who report wearing poorly-fitting condoms are more likely to remove condoms before penile–vaginal sex.2 Men with ill-fitting condoms reported much higher rates of multiple problems including condom breakage and slippage, more difficulty for either partner to achieve orgasm, diminished pleasure for both partners, penile irritation, difficulty with or lost erection, early removal of condom, and condom drying out during sex.2

Findings from the largest nationally representative study of sexual and sexual health behaviors ever fielded give reproductive health clinicians a window on current condom usage.3 In the study, a national probability sample of 5,865 U.S. adolescents and adults ages 14 to 94, condom use was highest among unmarried adults, higher among adolescents than adults, and higher among black and Hispanic individuals when compared with other racial groups.3

In looking at adolescents who participated in the study, researchers report condom use for penile-vaginal intercourse was reported for a majority of events.4 However, in looking at men and women above age 50, researchers found low rates of condom use, despite the fact that 20-30% remained sexually active into their 80s.5

"Although these individuals may not be as concerned about pregnancy, this suggests the need to enhance education efforts for older individuals regarding STI [sexually transmitted infection] risks and prevention," said Michael Reece, PhD, MPH, director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion in Bloomington-based Indiana University's School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation in a statement accompanying the research.

References

  1. Cecil M, Nelson AL, Trussell J, et al. If the condom doesn't fit, you must resize it. Contraception 2010; 82:489-490.
  2. Crosby RA, Yarber WL, Graham CA, et al. Does it fit okay? Problems with condom use as a function of self-reported poor fit. Sex Transm Infect 2010; 86:36-38.
  3. Reece M, Herbenick D, Schick V, et al. Condom use rates in a national probability sample of males and females ages 14 to 94 in the United States. J Sex Med 2010; 7 Suppl 5:266-276.
  4. Fortenberry JD, Schick V, Herbenick D, et al Sexual behaviors and condom use at last vaginal intercourse: a national sample of adolescents ages 14 to 17 years. J Sex Med 2010; 7 Suppl 5:305-314.
  5. Schick V, Herbenick D, Reece M, et al. Sexual behaviors, condom use, and sexual health of Americans over 50: implications for sexual health promotion for older adults. J Sex Med 2010; 7 Suppl 5:315-329.