Researchers from the University of Washington have come up with a method for creating dissolving female condoms, which can prevent both unwanted pregnancy and the spread of HIV and other STIs. The condoms will be made with electrospun fibers, capable of delivering antiviral drugs when the fibers dissolve.
I think that when it comes to preventing sexually transmitted infections, creating more contraceptive options for women is an important endeavor. However, the practical use of this female condom creates more questions in my mind than answers.
First of all, prophylactic use of HIV medicines in this type of delivery system has not been studied. Just because this fiber material is capable of holding other types of medications, does not necessarily mean that the medications will have good absorption into the vascular system.
I could see the practical use of a delivery method like this for the prevention of bacterial vaginosis (BV) or other STIs. However, since this material will be dissolved into the uterus, it’s possible it may create an inflammatory reaction – which could potentially interfere with fertility down the line.
Even though it is the dream of this creative team at UW to develop this new product, I still think that many significant prospective studies need to be done before these can be applied for everyday use. I am not for dissolving condoms at this juncture.
Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. For more information on Dr. Manny's work, visit AskDrManny.com.