New Dissolving Female Condom, More Powerful, Yet Discreet

12/13/2012

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A new, more discreet condom protects from pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and dissolves after use.

Researchers at the University of Washington have come up with a condom made from new micro spinning technology. The study, published in PLos One and funded with a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is changing the face of the condom as we know it.

CBSLocal reports "One of the fabrics dissolves within minutes, potentially offering users immediate and discrete protection. Another fabric dissolves gradually over a few days, providing an option for sustained delivery, similar to the birth-control pill, to provide contraception and protect against HIV."

Discrete and Powerful

The micro fibers allow for a more appealing family planning and STD prevention option. This modern condom, which dissolves during use, also delivers viral and pregnancy preventative drugs. According to the study, "We show that electrospun fibers deliver agents that inhibit both HIV and sperm in vitro in addition to physically preventing sperm penetration."

The hope is that this more powerful condom is, at the same time, more discreet. It doesn’t really matter how effective a condom is if people don’t use it. CDC estimates a reported 49 percent of pregnancies in the United States were unintended in 2006, a slight increase from 48 percent in 2001. 

The dissolving condom could also have an impact on STDs, especially HIV. In the U.S., approximately 50,000 people are newly infected with HIV each year.

 “Our dream is to create a product women can use to protect themselves from HIV infection and unintended pregnancy,” wrote corresponding author Kim Woodrow, a UW assistant professor of bioengineering on CBSLocal. “We have the drugs to do that. It’s really about delivering them in a way that makes them more potent, and allows a woman to want to use it.”

 

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Sara Novak writes about health and wellness for Discovery Health. Her work is also regularly featured in Breathe Magazine and on SereneKitchen.com. She has written extensively on food policy, food politics, and food safety.


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