Today’s Solutions: September 26, 2023

The way humans are approaching sexual health is constantly evolving and advancing. Here are eight designs focused on contraception and sexual equity that are challenging how we see and experience sexual health.

Grass fiber condoms by the University of Queensland

If you are an individual with a latex allergy, the material that is most commonly in condoms, the researchers at the University of Queensland have your back. They’ve developed a way to extract nanofibers from spinifex grass, a species of grass native to Australia that produces a thinner and stronger material than standard latex.

The Indjalandji-Dhidhanu, an Indigenous Queensland community that has long used spinifex as an adhesive for spearheads, helped the researchers develop the grass fiber condom with their knowledge of the material.

i.Con by British Condoms

This wearable technology is described by its manufacturer, British Condoms, as a fitness tracker for the penis. The i.Con is a smart condom ring that measures penis girth, thrust counts, and the duration of intercourse, but perhaps more importantly can detect signs of sexually transmitted infections. Users, if they wish, can even share their data publicly online.

Coso by Rebecca Weiss

German design graduate Rebecca Weiss was diagnosed with a cervical cancer precursor that prevented her from taking the female birth control pill. Motivated to find another solution, she invented Coso, a contraceptive device for males that uses ultrasound waves to temporarily stop sperm regeneration.

To use the device, users must fill it up with water, turn it on, and dip their testicles in. The contraceptive effectiveness starts two weeks after the first application, but should the user wish to reverse the effect, all they must do is halt applications, wait six months, and they’ll be as fertile as they were before.

Hex by Lelo

Swedish sex toy company Lelo came up with a condom that has better structural integrity and improved grip by using hexagon-shaped cells. Filip Sedic, the founder of Lelo, says that the company drew its inspiration from nature, saying, “there’s a reason why honeycombs are the shape they are, and why snake scales move the way they do. They’re nature’s go-to shape for anything needing to be at once lightweight and incredibly strong.”

Love Guide by Guan-Hao Pan

Every penis is unique, so it can be difficult for users to determine the right size condom for them. That’s why Taiwanese designer Guan-Hao Pan created condom packages that are modeled on phallic fruit and vegetables (such as zucchini, turnip, banana, carrot, and cucumber) that correspond to girth.

Users can hold the cylindrical tubes to get a more accurate idea of which size will fit them best.

S.T.Eye by Daanyaal Ali, Muaz Nawaz, and Chirag Shah

Young UK inventors Daanyaal Ali, Muaz Nawaz, and Chirag Shah won a prize at the 2015 TeenTech Awards for their condom design that changes color when a sexually transmitted disease or infection is detected.

Their proposal is a condom that is embedded with chemical indicators that react to the bacteria that cause infections like chlamydia and syphilis.

Bearina by Ronen Kadushin

Intrauterine contraceptive devices (IUDs) have grown in popularity as a contraceptive that doesn’t rely on the user remembering to take a daily pill. Normal copper IUDs function because metal ions dissolving from the device act as a spermicide, however, they tend to be pricey to produce, and are inaccessible to many.

Ronen Kadushin’s concept, Bearina, is open-sourced and uses a one-cent coin with a nylon thread, so theoretically, anyone can download the production files and manufacture an IUD for the fraction of the price of a conventional one.

One-handed condom wrapper by Ben Pawle

Those who are typically abled tend to take the fact that even the simplest and most commonly used things in this world, including condom wrappers, are designed for our convenience. British designer Ben Pawle broadened the audience for whom he designs and created a condom wrapper for people with disabilities that can be opened with just one hand.

Users use a simple finger-clicking action that breaks both the outer layer of foil and the thin plastic lining inside.

“I guess it’s just common sense,” Pawle says. “Why is a condom an obstacle and a hindrance instead of enhancing a moment?”

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