There’s a new product on the market that claims to “make sex smarter” — but after reading through all the information (or lack thereof) on Jiftip’s website, we’re not entirely sure about that. The product, which is still in its early stages of testing and development, is essentially a sticker used to seal the tip of the penis and hold ejaculate inside the body. It does not protect against STIs or even necessarily prevent pregnancy. So, just what is the Jiftip designed to do exactly?
The clearest answer that we could find on the site (which was about as clear as a glass of milk) was that “Jiftip is for male sexual pleasure enhancement.” The company says it accomplishes this by being able to go bare and “hold the penis party indoors” by using the urethra as a “cum-tainer.” They then site how “Chinese Daoists have enjoyed reversing fluids back into the prostate for eons. They believe it saves time and energy on refills while increasing both health and stamina”—but then go on to note that “This practice isn’t the same concept as Jiftip, which utilizes the empty space inside the urethra as a reservoir.”
Confused? Us too. And we’re not the only ones. Gabrielle, a visitor to the site, also questions Jiftip’s purpose in the comments section. “I don’t understand what it’s for. At all. You keep saying what it’s not for, but not what it IS for. If it’s not a contraceptive and it makes it feel like you’re completely bare, what’s the difference between this and being completely bare? Are you TESTING it as a contraceptive? What ARE you testing it as? Super curious as I won’t be interested unless I understand.”
Our sentiments exactly, Gabrielle. In fact, the only other thing we can find useful about the Jiftip other than the questionable purpose of “male sexual enhancement,” is preventing ejaculate from entering the person’s body on the receiving end, who is typically the one left to deal with the mess. However, they can’t guarantee this will prevent pregnancy or STIs. Basically, Jiftip would only be useful to monogamous couples who don’t use condoms and are either otherwise protected from pregnancy, or not trying to prevent it.
On the subject of STIs, Jiftip states that it “isn’t a condom nor a condom alternative” and should be used for “pleasure, convenience, novelty, or entertainment only.” It stresses that the Jiftip does not prevent against STIs and “is for pleasure and freedom.”
The website also tells users they can enjoy “real sex” with the Jiftip, which implies that sex with a barrier isn’t real—a somewhat dangerous message to send to young people, among whom STIs are currently on the rise. In today’s world of big budget cuts, where school sex education programs have especially been hit hard, we can’t help but worry that the Jiftip may be unwittingly used by many as a contraceptive or STI prevention device. In an environment where misinformation is rampant, young sexually active people may be vulnerable to this misgiving, and take a partner’s word that this device will protect them—kind of like the old, “you can’t get pregnant in a hot tub” myth.
So how do they experts weigh in? Surprisingly, opinions are split in the medical community, with some expressing major concerns about the Jiftip and others seeing exciting potential with the product.
“The Jiftip does not prevent sexually transmitted infections such as HPV and herpes,” Dr. Sherry Ross, educator and women’s health advocate, told Teen Vogue. “HPV is an epidemic and highly contagious sexually transmitted infection (STI) known to cause precancerous and cancer changes in the cervix, anus, penis, head, neck & throat. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection affecting women and men and could be transmitted if you use the Jiftip.”
But Dr. Jessica Shepherd, OB/GYN and founder of HerViewpoint, doesn’t think the Jiftip is entirely useless. “I think it actually is not necessarily a bad thing in terms of a prototype in getting toward a place where we can provide more options of male contraception,” said Shepherd. “The fact that it doesn’t work quite yet is not all the way shocking, especially when semen obviously is composed of a lot of different liquids and lubricants and glandular fluids. There is a potential for leakage, that’s the biggest thing. It has a potential to be something in the future.”
That being said, Dr. Shepherd doesn’t recommend using Jiftip just yet. “It needs to be FDA approved as something clinically studied to show it does prohibit exposure of ejaculation and prevents pregnancy,” said Shepherd. “It does take a while before a product can reach that level.”
THE BOTTOM LINE: Using the Jiftip = having unprotected sex. Before you and your partner decide to have unprotected sex (with or without the Jiftip) you should both get tested for STIs and understand the risk of pregnancy. Using Jiftip won’t help you with either of those things.