The LELO HEX is a curiously strong rubber.

By Kristine Thomason
Updated June 17, 2016
Credit: Courtesy Lelo Hex

After 70 years of its tried-and-true design, the classic condom is getting a makeover. This week, Swedish company LELO launched what it's calling "the world’s first re-engineered condom," the HEX. “Too many people avoid wearing condoms, so to change their minds, we’ve changed the condom itself," chief marketing officer Steve Thomson explained in an email to Health.

It's true, condoms are chronically under-used (and rates of STDs are on the rise). Intrigued by these seemingly revolutionary rubbers, we asked Thomson for the lowdown, since the condoms won't be available until later this summer. Here, a few things we learned about the HEX.

It uses hexagons for strength

"We realized that it wasn't the material that needed to change, but the structure of the condom," explained Thomson. LELO's founder, Filip Sedic, was inspired by the molecular makeup of graphene, a virtually indestructible material that gets strength from its hexagonal structure. “When we thought further along these lines, it became clear: Hexagons are nature’s go-to shape for anything needing to be lightweight and also super strong,” said Thomson. (Think honeycombs, for example.) The hexagonal structure seems to work. As a LELO ad demonstrates, the condoms can withstand even aggressive needle pokes.


It's surprisingly thin

While the HEX’s sturdy new design might make you think its extra-thick (and a major mood killer), the condom is not. Its made up of ultra-thin panels encased in 350 hexagonal cells, explained Thomson. “Any unwanted stress is also channeled through the structure,” he said.

It has texture on the inside

That offers extra grip and security (not to mention ribbed-for-his-pleasure sensations). “It’s rather like the wet tires used in Formula 1 that help avoid slippage,” said Thomson.

It's designed to quash excuses

By now we're all well aware condoms are essential to stop the spread of STDs. But still people come up with excuses not to wear them. “We discovered that the three main issues people have with condoms are that they break too readily, they’re prone to slippage, and according to some, they limit sensitivity,” explained Thomson. But according to him, the hexagonal web on the HEX takes care of all those complaints.

It only comes in latex (for now)

Bad news for anyone with a sensitivity—these condoms will just be available in latex. However, the company is planning to make the HEX with alternative materials in the future.

It's sparking some buzz

Earlier this week, Charlie Sheen told People he wants to use his fame to raise awareness about sexual health, and announced a partnership with LELO HEX as part of his “greater calling” to get people talking about protected sex. “A dangerous ‘It’ll never happen to me’ attitude prevails—that’s certainly something Charlie can speak to,” says Thomson.

The company hopes that all the buzz will also push other brands to start innovating with contraceptives. “HEX lays down the gauntlet to the condom industry,” says Thomson. “It shows innovation is possible and challenges people to try it, and see the difference.”

LELO estimates the HEX condoms will be ready for production in August. But you can reserve a 12-pack now by donating $14 to the company's Indiegogo campaign.