Kid-Sized Condoms: Company Markets Contraceptive for 14-Year-Olds

Swiss company says it hopes to encourage safe sex among teens.

ByABC News
March 5, 2010, 5:36 PM

March 8, 2010— -- At first glance, the Ceylor Hotshot condom might appear similar to others in the market.

But this smaller-sized condom, thus far marketed only in Switzerland, is designed to deal with the specific problem of teenage pregnancy and the spread of disease among boys as young as 14.

Nysse Norballe, a spokeswoman for Swiss condom manufacturer Lamprecht AG, said the company was approached by the AIDS awareness organization AIDS-Hilfe Switzerland with the idea to produce and market a condom for a younger age group.

The organization "had carried out many studies which found that a lot of young people -- i.e. teenagers -- had trouble finding a suitably sized condom," she said. "They needed a smaller-sized condom and asked us if we could manufacture it."

Part of the reason for the development of the new condom, she added, was a survey performed by the German magazine Bravo. Among 13,000 respondents age 14 to 20, the magazine reported, 25 percent of the them said standard condoms were too big.

"Meanwhile, in Switzerland last year, a 13-year-old girl, Ramona, gave birth, becoming the youngest mother in the country," Norballe said. "The father of her child was 14 at the time and when asked about it, he said, 'We did use a condom, but it slipped off.' So there's been ongoing concern recently about condom sizes here."

The manufacturers do not expect that the move will be controversy-free, a point with which sexual health experts in the United States agreed. Still, some experts said that such an approach may not be a bad idea when it comes to promoting safe sex among teens.

"We know that young men are becoming sexually active as young as 14 and earlier, and we know that teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and HIV are major problems around the world," said Eli Coleman, chair in Sexual Health at the University of Minnesota Medical School's Program in Human Sexuality in Minneapolis.

Providing condoms that are comfortable and pleasurable to teens will encourage their use and, in turn, decrease rates of unintended pregnancy and disease, he said.