You Need to Stay Away from This New Form of “Birth Control”—Here’s Why

Women know well that birth control options are limited and they can be problematic, for example. So when a guy steps up to the plate with a condom—which, used correctly, are 98 percent effective at protecting against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and preventing pregnancy—everyone’s relieved. (Remember, the only option that’s 100 percent effective is abstinence.) But some people don’t like condoms and this gives manufacturers a reason to come up with new “contraception.” Unfortunately, these products tend to create more problems than solutions, and the latest example is Jiftip, which promotes using a sticker to seal the urethra of the penis shut. Yes, a sticker.

Apparently, the stickers prevent “wet spots” (from pre-ejaculate) on the penis, which the company says makes “simple sex smarter.” Before you rush out and get yourself some penis stickers, you should know that Jiftip is undergoing testing (the company says it’s “in beta”). Which is just as well, because it doesn’t actually prevent pregnancy, and the level of protection against STIs is, well, zero. They admit this themselves (in very large letters: “THOU SHALT NOT USE FOR PREGNANCY OR STI PREVENTION PURPOSES”) and acknowledge that the stickers really might not work at all: “WILL IT WORK? How can you know? How can anyone know?—until they try.”

Lakeisha Richardson, MD, an OBGYN with more than 10 years of experience in private practice, says people should make sure they read the small print carefully before using Jiftip during sex. “Jiftip does not protect against STIs, has a high incidence of failure if not applied correctly, is not an alternative to condoms, and should not be used as a reliable device for prevention of pregnancy and STIs,” she says. “Women and men should stick to using condoms for the best protection against STIs and pregnancy.”

What about the tagline at the end of Jiftip’s demo video: “Meet Jiftip and upgrade your sex?” “This is less of an upgrade and more of an unfortunate excuse for not using a condom,” warns Chicago-based OBGYN Wendy Goodall McDonald, MD. “Apparently, the company doesn’t even stand by its effectiveness. They don’t say why, but I can only speculate that maybe the adhesive doesn’t always hold or the seal can be broken. Purpose, defeated.”

It boils down to this: if you want to decorate your penis with stickers, go for it. But when it comes to preventing pregnancy and STIs, a condom is still your best bet.