Better Birth Control for Women: Now Tastier and Cuter Than Ever


Yesterday on Gizmodo, I saw a post about “Wacky Condoms” that featured animal-shaped condoms, some bearing lights. Though fun or fun-ny, aside from the lights and potential accompanying music, animal shaped condoms themselves are nothing new.

I first saw some animal-shaped condoms when I started working at The Kinsey Institute many moons ago. As you can see in this photo (squint; they’re at the top), they used to regularly display a few shelves of decorative condoms in the Institute’s gallery. I wish I had a more detailed photo but there were quite a few unusual shapes on display. They were several decades old by the time I first saw them in 1999 and they were deteriorating in places (old latex does that), but it was quite fascinating to see the varied ways that people have been playful about sex and contraception.

However, I do wonder why it is only men’s penises that get all of the fun. Why not expand our sense of whimsy – or wackiness, as it were – to women’s contraceptives. For example:

- Instead of a boring oval shaped NuvaRing, why not create a vaginal contraceptive insertive device that is shaped like a heart? Or a pearl necklace or gold coin (you are, after all storing this “treasure” in your vagina for three weeks)? Or an iPod, just for kicks? Or a scary monster to make your partner laugh when you remove it during sex?

- Instead of a T-shaped IUD inserted into the uterus, why not make it so that when it opens in the womb it takes the shape of a baby? After all, some educators and healthcare providers keep perpetuating the myth that “birth control works by tricking your body into thinking it’s pregnant” – why not give the womb a fake baby to really trick it?

- Birth control pills: sure they’ve made chewable pills and mint-flavored pills, but why not grape flavored? And why not shaped like the Flintstones or another childhood favorite chewable vitamin? Even as an adult I prefer to take grape-flavored Dimetapp flavored cough medicine or my holistic honey-flavored stuff  when absolutely necessary – why can’t the pill be more cute and tasty too? And in terms of birth control carrying cases, why not feature your favorite bloggers, web personalities or celebrities? I would be way more proud and open about birth control if my carrying case featured a smiling mug of Current TV’s Sarah Haskins.

- Rather than selling a birth control patch that looks like a boring band-aid or a smoking cessation patch, why not make them look like cool bandaids? I have always opted for band-aids with themes like Hello Kitty, bugs, hearts, Scooby Doo and Cat and the Hat. Why should I only get cool designs to cover up my owies? Why can’t they prevent pregnancy too? Just because a woman doesn’t want a baby yet doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to revel in her childhood Dr. Seuss favorites.

- The Shot (Depo). Um, okay. There’s nothing much you can do to make this more fun, except maybe give women a lollipop and a “You’re great!” sticker before sending them home. Or a Sangria. Next.

- Dental dams: Hellooooo…. so much one could do here that might actually inspire stores to start stocking them and people to start using them. How about making Obama themed dams? What about a dental dam with glam brand logos on them, a la LVs all over your cooch? Or a super textured dam so that when your partner is licking your dental dam it’s more than just a tongue, it’s a total experience (To: dental dam manufacturers – I have way more ideas where these came from. Hit me up! Love, Debby)

- The Female Condom: can we not attach a vibrator to it at the top (sort of like men’s vibrating rings)? Or can the edges vibrate? Or can it emit a warming lube on the part that touches a woman’s vagina so that it feels stimulating? We’ve got to give women reason to use these otherwise awkward devices.

- Spermicide: I feel like this could be delivered in way hotter ways than random (and btw, often irritating) tubes and films. Can a dildo or vibrator not be used to deliver it all the way in there? And can we not come up with a spermicide that is less irritating than N9, especially for couples who have frequent sex?

- Birth control sponge: Surely this could be way more fun to use if it actually looked like Sponge Bob Square Pants, a star fish, an octopus (get it?), or – um – Obama once again. Maybe it could even look like a penis or a breast (it would be kind of funny to pull a breast out of your vagina, like “hey, what’s that doing in there?”). Even better: it could look like car keys, since people are always losing those.

- The Cervical Cap is also a snap to make cuter, better and more fantastic for women everywhere. The cervical cap could be decorative – it could have a polka dot pattern, paisley, plaid (especially if you’re dating that preppy new guy) or it could come with different flag motifs for your hot international lover.

- When it comes to withdrawal (aka pulling out), some people might argue that there is little for manufacturers to do. This is where the creative business woman in me is all “but what about a cream that women can apply on their stomachs or backs that not only moisturizes her skin but changes color when it comes into contact with sperm or proteins found only in ejaculate?” This marvelous invention would be (a) good for women’s skin, (b) fun and (c) provide clear evidence of how well his aim was. After all, if the color changed too close to her vulva, then they might wonder whether he withdrew in time or if they should be using other fun/tasty back-up methods of birth control.

Now that we’ve seen just how easy it would be to make women’s birth control more attractive and in some cases more tasty, I hope that manufacturers everywhere will consider this request. And contact me, of course.

Follow me on Twitter @mysexprofessor

Related MSP articles:
- Birth Control Myth: It’s Hard to Get Pregnant After Stopping the Pill
- Do Birth Control Pills Make You Gain Weight?
- Can a woman get pregnancy from a man’s pre-ejaculate?

About Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick is a sex researcher at Indiana University, sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, columnist, and author of five books about sex and love. Learn more about her work at