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Spray-on Condoms: Great idea, wrong audience?

October 9, 2010

Yesterday some folks linked me to an article about the development of spray-on condoms, and I was intrigued. I read more about them in an article from Time magazine, and I’m pretty intrigued. My first thoughts were ‘hey, this could be the next generation of safer sex’ followed by ‘wait, how does this work’?

The idea, engineered by Jan Vinzenz Krause, is a “hard plastic tube with nozzles that spray liquid latex from all directions”, thereby covering the penis (or other object?) in a perfectly form-fitting layer of latex. Krasue developed the idea after receiving feedback from his online condom advisor, which helped men across Germany determine which brand and size condom would fit them the best. The spray-on condom, at first glance, seems to be the perfect solution to condom sizing problems.

Or…is it? There are a few problems with the prototype, which is why although Krause planned to release it to the market in 2008, we haven’t seen an influx of Trojan Spray-On commercials on late-night television. First of all, men aren’t finding the spray-on factor to be any less of a deterrent than the act of putting on a regular roll-down condom. “Some were ‘a little bit afraid to use the tube’ and would only try it on their fingers. Others worried that the mechanism, which hisses as it sprays, might ruin the mood.” I can see that. Watching your man stick his penis into a hissing tube doesn’t sound like too much of a turn-on to me, either. I’d rather just rip open some plastic packaging. Not to mention, the liquid latex takes about 20 seconds to dry. I have a hard enough not ruining my fingernails 20 seconds after painting them, imagining laying in bed, waiting for your condom to dry.

Then there’s the question that no news article seems to have addressed yet; where does the ejaculate go? Those of us who were lucky enough to have comprehensive sex education in school know that you have to pinch a condom before putting it on in order to keep some air in the tip and give ejaculate somewhere to go. If your condom is perfectly conformed to the tip of the penis, that 28mph fluid is going to have nowhere to go. I’m pretty sure it’ll be blowing a hole in that thin latex pretty quickly.

Here’s where we (and Jan Krasuse) should step back and realize we’ve been looking at this whole debate through a narrow, vanilla, heterosexual lens. Let’s open this up for a minute to the wide world of sexualities. For male/male sexual activity, the condom issues described above are, well, still pretty damn valid if we’re only talking about a bunch of penises. And for female/female relations, some of you might think there’s nothing to talk about. No penises, right?

But for strap-ons, dildos, anal toys and anything else that couples might be using, spray-on condoms could be a fantastic idea. There are many toys that can’t be perfectly sterilized, and the truly safe will know when to use condoms to protect themselves and their partners, even without body to body connection. Dildos don’t need to ejaculate, so no worries there. Hissing tubes not sexy enough? Spray condoms onto your toys before your play session even begins. Leave them to try, and then they’re ready and waiting when you need them.

I agree that these spray-on condoms are just not ready, if we’re talking about birth control. They have a ton of flaws that haven’t been fixed, and right now we’re probably better off educating the men and women in our society to take responsibility, bring a condom, and use the damn thing properly. But for covering sex toys, these condoms could be a fun, sexy, and responsible way to protect ourselves and our partners from any unwanted infections.

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