Jiftip, a new product that seals shut the opening of the penis, is the condom alternative you never wanted.
A company called is banking on men hating condoms so much that they’ll use a sticker to seal the tip of their penises shut instead.
Yep, we’re cringing too. The polyurethane film with an adhesive on one side is designed to block the opening of the penis, keeping pre-ejaculate and ejaculate fluids inside during sex. The idea "began as a desperate attempt to avoid using condoms," according to Jiftip’s , which sells the stickers for $2 each. Wearers apply one before sex, then face a doozy of a choice: ejaculate with the penis sealed, or remove the sticker before ejaculating to finish the deed… elsewhere.
This, the website promises, will make wearers fall in love with sex all over again. But are these stickers safe to use?
Since Jiftip is designed to help couples avoid using condoms, you'd expect the stickers to do what condoms do, namely prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). But this product does neither. "Because it’s not approved for anything anywhere, let’s make this clear: Use Jiftip for novelty, pleasure, convenience, fun, or entertainment. Thou shalt not use for pregnancy or STI prevention purposes," says a disclaimer on the Jiftip website.
Instead, Jiftip stickers seal the penis for couples looking to take their chances with the withdrawal method. "Condoms aren't the problem. Nobody's using them. The problem is the pullout. Everyone's doing it wrong," the website claims. However, more than 9% of women ages 15 to 44 say they’ve used condoms in the last 30 days, according to the , so some people are using them. And while nearly 65% of women ages 15 to 44 report having used the withdrawal method at least once in their lives, it’s notoriously not foolproof—in fact, about one in four women using this method get pregnant every year, according to .
For Jiftip to make the withdrawal method safer, it would have to prevent all fluid from escaping the penis. But this might not be entirely safe either, says urologist Koushik Shaw, MD, of the Austin Urology Institute. "Ejaculating under high-pressure circumstances may back up your system," he explains. Dr. Shaw worries that this practice could lead to prostate or penile pain if done repeatedly. "The body is supposed to do things in a certain way, so I can’t say this would be recommended," he says.
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Another concern is the efficacy of the seal itself. H. Hunter Handsfield, MD, professor emeritus at the University of Washington Center for AIDS and STD, tells Health that blocking ejaculation would require a pretty rigorous seal, and there’s no data explaining how well the Jiftip stays put. "I would be a little surprised if this device works 100% of the time in maintaining its seal," he says. If it isn’t tight, unintended pregnancy or sexual infections that are transmitted through semen become an even greater risk.
Of course, if the seal is very tight, peeling it off of the sensitive skin becomes trickier. "For this to work, it has to adhere pretty firmly," Dr. Handsfield says. "Is removal like a painful Band-Aid, or does it come off fairly readily?" A who goes by Sam writes on the site: "Not gonna lie it's a very sensitive area and did hurt a little. But the pain wasn't significant, nowhere near bad enough for me to forego that skin-on-skin pleasure." Depending on the guy and how sensitive his skin is, the adhesive could also cause some irritation, Dr. Shaw says.
That "skin-on-skin pleasure" may be the big draw here, but unintended pregnancies and STDs are too big of a risk. "I wouldn't necessarily say [you should] be the guinea pig for something like this," says Dr. Shaw. Instead, stick to tried-and-true birth control methods such as the pill or an IUD to prevent pregnancy. And while they may not be a fan favorite, condoms are still the most effective method of birth control to protect against sexually transmitted infections.