The sex tech industry is really trying its best to sell products designed to help people have safer sex — and we're here for it.
A company called Lorals just got the FDA's thumbs-up to sell vanilla-flavored latex underwear that it claims offers STI protection during oral sex. The product does this by creating a "seal on the inside of the thigh" using stretchy material, according to The New York Times.
The panties, according to Lorals, have one big advantage over other safer sex alternatives: they protect against bodily fluid transfer with more visual and sensory appeal than condoms or dental dams.
After all, we all know a guy who complains about having to wear a condom, and nobody wants to hold latex on a labia with their hands while trying to give head — but Lorals says their undies increase, not decrease, sensation to the vagina and anus alike.
"Couples, throuples, hookups, spouses, cis, trans, queer, conservative, kinky—Lorals are made to help anyone and everyone say yes to maximizing pleasure," the company's site proudly proclaims.
There's something that's a little off, though. Like condoms, which the FDA considers to be Class II medical devices, Lorals had to submit research and proof of efficiency to the government alongside their approval application. Unlike other medical devices though, the FDA didn't do any human trials of their own and relied on Loral's data.
There are real risks associated with these kinds of products. For instance, sexperts aren't particularly keen on flavored condoms and douching, because they can cause skin irritation and give you nasty UTIs.
Despite the company's best intentions and glowing reviews, there are going to be pain points with any sexual wellness product, because every person is different — not exactly the kind of argument you'd find on the company's polished Instagram account.
But that doesn't mean the underwear aren't cool. In fact, they make sex more inclusive — imagine being able to provide oral sex to your partner after years of not being able to due to cancer complications, as one source told the NYT.
STI protection options are always a great idea, and the more choices people have the less likely they are to get infected.
While all of that is well and good, we shouldn't have to rely on marketing copy from some flashy startup alone. It should be up to the FDA to ensure the undies are both safe to use and effective for everybody as well.
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