New technological advances are constantly being developed to optimize nearly every facet of our lives, and sex is no exception. Here, two LA-based experts—neuroscientist and sex researcher Nicole Prause, Ph.D., and sociologist and online dating expert Jessica Carbino, Ph.D.—weigh in on what the latest offerings can do for intimacy.
Status: In development
Some of the reasons people cite for avoiding condoms include decreased sexual pleasure, poor fit, and latex sensitivity. A team of experts at the University of Wollongong in New South Wales, Australia, is addressing those issues with new impermeable hydrogels to make the condoms strong, stretchy, more skin-like, and potentially self-lubricating and biodegradable. The condoms still need to undergo a series of user trials, but researchers hope the product will be ready for release within two years.
Carbino’s verdict: “These are still in development, so it’s too early to tell if they’ll be a good alternative to latex condoms. There’s definitely potential, because latex types are neither comfortable nor recyclable—in fact, they don’t break down at all. It’s good to see we’re making in-roads toward a more eco-friendly material.”
Status: In development
Men have just one accessible and reversible birth control option: condoms. Scientists are working on a temporary offering called Vasalgel, which gets injected into the vas deferens (the duct that moves sperm from the testicles to the urethra) to prevent sperm from making it into ejaculate. Unlike a vasectomy, it wears off after a few years and may be immediately reversible with an injection of sodium bicarbonate. The makers of Vasalgel, Revolution Contraceptives, received a grant earlier this year to advance human trials of the product, an essential step in its release.
Carbino's verdict: “Vasalgel is exciting because it can be easily collected or broken down to reinstate fertility, so it's much more temporary than a vasectomy. It makes sense for men who want greater control over their fertility, as well as couples in long-term relationships.”
Worn like a bracelet at night, the Ava Fertility Tracker 2.0 measures things like skin temperature, breathing, heart rate, and sleep, among others. It then uses this information to predict when a woman is most fertile.
Carbino’s verdict:“The fact that it’s a wearable makes the Ava really convenient and normalizes fertility tracking, which can keep women from getting stressed about it. I also like that it tracks variables such as sleep movement and quality, which can affect fertility.”
The Satisfyer Pro 2 uses a pressure vacuum and pressure wave stimulation to bring women to orgasm. It’s waterproof, rechargeable, and has 11 settings. Notably, it doesn’t vibrate.
Prause’s verdict: “A 2018 trial compared one of these suction devices to a vibrating one in women with spinal cord injuries. The suction devices helped women reach orgasm more quickly, and that benefit lasted for four weeks after they stopped using them. This study made me much more excited about products like this. There's no compelling reason to believe that these devices would act differently in able-bodied women.”
Status: Coming soon
This hands-free sex toy had a controversial debut at CES 2019 when its innovation award was revoked, allegedly due to gender bias. The Osé, which will be available this fall, reportedly flexes and pulses using advanced micro-robotics to give women hands-free orgasms.
Prause’s verdict: “The company claims this product “feels just like a real partner,” and extensive data shows different neural pathways are activated by the same stroking pressure and speed applied by a hand, a gloved hand, and a machine hand. There’s currently no reason to believe that a machine touch wouldn’t be recognized by the brain as such.”