A female condom which can protect against pregnancy and sexual diseases by dissolving inside the body has been developed.
Experts claim the ‘discreet protection’ can safeguard people from HIV and unwanted pregnancy by ‘melting’ and releasing chemicals.
Researchers at the University of Washington (UW) developed the condom from tiny microfibres through a method called ‘electrospinning’.
The cloth-like fibres can be woven from medicine into extremely thin ‘webs’
They are then designed to dissolve after use, either within minutes or over several days.
Not only would the condom block sperm, it could time-release a potent mix of anti-HIV drugs and hormonal contraceptives.
The team was given $1m to develop the technology, which uses an electric field to charge fluid through air to create the very fine, nanometer-sized fibres.
The team say it could replace existing contraception such as the pill
Kim Woodrow, a UW assistant professor of bioengineering, said: ‘Our dream is to create a product women can use to protect themselves from HIV infection and unintended pregnancy.
‘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.’
Prof Woodrow presented the idea, and co-authors Emily Krogstad and Cameron Ball, both first-year graduate students, agreed to pursue the project, at a meeting held last year.
Ball added: ‘This method allows controlled release of multiple compounds.
‘We were able to tune the fibers to have different release properties.’
One of the fabrics dissolves within minutes, offering users immediate protection, while another fabric dissolves gradually over a few days, providing an alternative to the birth-control pill, to provide contraception and protect against HIV.
While the researchers agree the technology is more discrete, they admit it people mayhave some doubts.
‘At the time of sex, are people going to actually use it? That’s where having multiple options really comes into play,’ Krogstad told the University of Washington.
– Daily Mail