These Condoms Could Revolutionize Safe Sex

innovative condoms

Very little innovation comes to condoms. It's been an incredibly long time since a serious innovation took place. Adjustments are made in baby steps that aren't necessarily doing a whole lot for pleasure or safety. This one has ribs. This one feels like icy hot. This one smells like a factory where they make artificial watermelon flavoring.

LELO, dubbed "the Apple of the pleasure product industry," is setting out to take a major step forward in condom design. That may not be a phrase you've thought much about — condom design — but it should be now. The designers were inspired by the molecular structure of graphene to create a condom that solves three of the major issues with condoms: Slippage, breakage, and reduced pleasure. 

It's some much needed innovation for a product whose last major innovation was a reservoir tip, added 70 years ago.

So why hexagons?  “There’s a reason why honeycombs are the shape they are, and why snake scales move the way they do. It’s because hexagons are strong, symmetrical, and tessellate perfectly," says Filip Sedec, founder and inventor of Hex. "They’re one of nature’s go-to shapes for anything needing to be at once lightweight, and incredibly strong. That’s why the structure of Graphene – the thinnest, strongest material we know of today is ... you guessed it, hexagonal.”

The condoms have a raised internal structure, those hexagons, that grip, helping to stop slippage. That structure also strengthens the condoms against breaks and makes it so when breaks do happen it's not a balloon pop situation, as seen in the GIF above. The condom, according to LELO, is able to maintain its structural integrity even when intentionally punctured with a pin.

That internal gripping also makes the condoms more form-fitting in hopes of making sex more pleasurable, an innovation no one is going to complain about. 

innovative condoms

They aren't coming cheap though. The condoms cost more than your standard Trojan or other familiar brand. That's in part because the cost of making the condoms is two and a half times higher than standard condom manufacturing, according to the company. It's also partly because they would like to position themselves as a luxury condom brand. Their justification is that they believe if people are paying more and believe that there's a luxury element to the condom, they're more likely to use the condoms.

"We believe that the biggest problem with condoms is, people don't want to use them. So, we need to make them want to use them," Sedic told Tech Insider. "Usually, if something looks cool and is high-priced, people want to take it [sic]."

Right now, LELO Hex condoms are running $9.90 for a 3-pack, $19.90 for a 12-pack, and $34.90 for a 36-pack in preorders. By contrast, a 36-pack of Trojan ENZ costs just $13.27 at Amazon.

Getting more people to regularly use condoms is a serious issue. A study from Indiana University found that only one in four situations with vaginal intercourse involves a condom. A 2007 study found that college students, both men and women, who find unprotected sex more pleasurable, are less likely to use a condom. Bridging that gap is important when 20 million people contract an STI annually, and a 2011 study found that 49% of pregnancies in 2006 were unintended.

The company hopes to launch this summer and is funding the first run through Indiegogo, where they've raised 16 times the amount they set as an initial goal.

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Dustin Nelson is a News Writer with Thrillist. He holds a Guinness World Record, but has never met the fingernail lady. He’s written for Sports Illustrated, Men’s Journal, The Rumpus, and other digital wonderlands. Follow him @dlukenelson.