Sex Question Friday: Is The “Galactic Cap” The Condom Of The Future?
January 16, 2015 by Justin Lehmiller
A reader submitted the following question:
“I saw the Galactic Cap on a YouTube video, and really wanted to know your thoughts. It seems dangerous and ridiculous to me, but I don’t have a degree in sexology or epidemiology or biology. I’d like to hear your thoughts on it!”
Thanks for this question! For those of you who aren’t familiar with the “Galactic Cap,” it’s basically a mini-condom that only covers the tip of the penis, as opposed to a traditional condom that covers the entire head and shaft. If you need a visual image, some have described it as a “shower cap” for your penis, which I think sums it up pretty well. So how does it stay in place, you ask? Easy. You glue it to your penis. Yes, you read that right.
Let me explain—the Galactic Cap comes in two pieces. The first part is a thin polyurethane base that has a very strong adhesive underneath it. This ensures that the base bonds securely to the tip of the penis, creating what the manufacturer boldly refers to as “a second skin.” The base can supposedly be applied hours or potentially even days before sex and, yes, you can even shower and urinate while wearing it. The second piece is the condom-like portion (the cap), which consists of a reservoir for capturing semen. The underside of the cap is also lined with a strong adhesive, which is used to bond it to the polyurethane base. The cap is attached just before sex occurs. Check out this video for a closer look at how it works.
As described by the manufacturer, the goal of the Galactic Cap is to provide a contraceptive device that allows for more sexual sensation by virtue of covering less of the penis. To be clear, it’s only being advertised for pregnancy prevention. While the manufacturer claims it also protects against STIs, the Galactic Cap likely provides less protection against sexually transmitted infections than traditional condoms because it covers less skin. For instance, by not covering the shaft of the penis, there is a greater likelihood of transmitting infections such as herpes and HPV, which are passed on through skin-to-skin contact, not ejaculate.
So is the Galactic Cap the condom of the future? I think the jury is still out on that one. For one thing, there isn’t currently any effectiveness data on it. Thus, we don’t know if it is more or less effective than the traditional male condom at preventing pregnancy. As a scientist, I wouldn’t recommend a new form of birth control without first seeing the data.
In addition, although the Galactic Cap is advertised primarily as a contraceptive, the fact that the manufacturer plays up the STI prevention angle makes me concerned that some people will view this as a condom replacement when that’s not really what it is. There’s no doubt that the Galactic Cap will be less effective at preventing certain STIs (e.g., herpes, HPV) compared to traditional condoms. So, I do have some concerns that it could make sex less safe, unless it primarily appeals to people who were not going to use traditional condoms anyway.
That said, I doubt the Galactic Cap will ultimately catch on for a few reasons: First, the size of the penile head can change greatly during sexual arousal. Depending upon the stage at which the base is glued on, I can see some potential for physical discomfort as well as device failure linked to changes in penis size as arousal levels increase or decrease. Second, I just don’t think many guys would want to walk around for days with a polyurethane base glued to their penises. For one thing, the sensation of walking around with something glued to one of the most sensitive parts of the body will no doubt be obvious—but there’s also a concern that this might interfere with other sexual activities, such as masturbation and oral sex.
Finally, I can’t find a single piece of information regarding how to take the Galactic Cap off. If it were as easy to remove as it were to put on, you’d have to think that would be a part of the advertisement! Remember that the cap is glued to the base, which is glued to the penis. You’re not just going to be able to pull it off like a traditional condom. Think of it this way—if the cap is too easy to pull off, it sure as heck isn’t going to stay in place and provide you with any meaningful protection during sex! So, it’s probably going to require some type of adhesive remover, which means exposing your penis to some chemicals and making a mess. For guys who think condoms are too much of a pain to use, I doubt they’re going to want to go through all of the post-sex cleanup associated with having caps glued to their penises.
That said, I will say that I appreciate the manufacturer’s desire to make a condom-like product that enhances pleasure—pleasure is something we absolutely need to pay more attention to when it comes to safer sex. I’m not convinced the Galactic Cap is the answer we’ve been looking for, but I do have high hopes for the Origami Condom, which is supposed to debut next year!
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Dr. Justin LehmillerFounder & Owner of Sex and Psychology
Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.Read full bio >