Dr John Tang was “sick and tired” of the complaints about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unwanted pregnancies from his patients.
The answer to these complaints appeared simple enough: just use a condom then!
But traditional (commercialised) condoms just weren’t cutting it, it seemed.
So, being a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist with over 20 years of experience, he developed an adhesive barrier film alternative to traditional condoms.
Essentially, it’s a sticky condom. “But wouldn’t that hurt?” you’re thinking.
We had the same question and more, so we took them to Dr Tang himself, and he told Vulcan Post all about Wondaleaf Unisex Condom’s journey and why this alternative was necessary.
A Modern Day Fig Leaf
Named after the fig leaves that Adam and Eve used to hide their nakedness, the Wondaleaf Unisex Condom started out as a female condom.
Dr Tang wanted this condom to solve 4 problems that his research identified:
- Existing condoms only protect the genitalia and not the public or perineal area,
- Condoms are mostly used by men but are prone to slipping once they lose their erection,
- Most people are not aware of female condoms,
- People refuse to use condoms due to loss of sensation and latex allergies.
As such, the original design was a pouch held inside the vagina with the support of an adhesive shield attached to the abdomen and a retention unit inside the woman.
Eventually, he found that this could be inverted to become an external condom, thus making it unisex.
Male or female, the condom acts as a stick-on dressing that covers both internal and external genitalia. This is a key difference between Wondaleaf’s condoms and traditional ones.
Dr Tang explained, “Condoms don’t cover the pubic area, and a lot of infections, such as herpes simplex or genital warts occur there, and for women, the vulva and labia aren’t protected by the current female condom.”
Twin Catalyst also developed a miniaturised male-only version called the Wondaleaf Cap Condom, using the same barrier film material but only covering the penis like a traditional condom.
“It’s designed for a man in a monogamous relationship where contraception, rather than STIs transmission, is the main concern,” Dr Tang said. “The advantage over the existing condom is that it’s slippage and spillage proof, erection independent, and is thinner and not constraining like a latex male condom.”
Condoms are considered to be a high-risk medical device due to the consequences of their failure.
Hence, Dr Tang’s team took 3 years to ensure the material was suitable for its intended purpose.
The condoms have also been tested for viral penetration, biocompatibility, and tensile properties.
“Most condoms are required to have a tensile strength of 39 Newtons (approximately 3.9kg of force), and have a bursting point of 1 kPa,” he said.
“Wondaleaf has a tensile strength of 41 Newtons and has a bursting point of 14.8kPa. So, we’re confident consumers will be safe using them.”
The condoms have also met International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) requirements, such as freedom from holes, visible defects and tear strength, to name a few.
That’s a lot of requirements to go through, but this means that the condoms have been deemed consistently safe for use.
All 3 garnered positive results, with participants saying that they trusted Wondaleaf condoms and would recommend them to others.
The condoms are also registered as a Class III medical device in Malaysia’s Medical Device Authority, meaning that they are safe for sale in our country.
But Are They Really Safe?
Despite all these tests, when I first saw their product demo videos, I immediately thought of cling film.
The Wondaleaf condom looked flimsy and hard to use when compared to traditional condoms.
Putting one on also involves folding and tucking, which might lead to user error. Plus, the thought of peeling an adhesive off a sensitive area put me off.
After expressing my concerns to Dr Tang, here’s what he had to say.
“We think it’s a good thing that the material looks soft and thin. The 0.02mm polyurethane condom feels good. The thickness, or should I say thinness, allows for excellent heat transfer and enhanced sensation,” he explained.
However, he does acknowledge the learning curve but hopes that the benefits will be enough to convince consumers.
As for the adhesiveness, Dr Tang said that based on personal feedback and from users, it isn’t as bad as you’d think.
“Just remove it by gently pulling on the flaps, as opposed to ripping it off,” he advised.
Additionally, he pointed out that the adhesiveness is why his condoms do not rely on the erections. If properly used, the Wondaleaf condom should stay on and prevent spillage.
As such, they are planning to conduct sexual education talks and campaigns to teach people how to use Wondaleaf products.
It’s Not Just About The Sex
Using the same barrier film, Twin Catalyst developed Wondaleaf Adhesive Pouch, a water-proof dressing for minor wounds, such as on fingers and circumcisions.
It’s already being used in 4 medical centres, and they hope to drive down the cost of wound care by reducing the number of times dressings need to be changed.
No one has thought to create a three-dimension polyurethane barrier film with a centrally located pouch or space. We’ve found that this has significant uses in the medical industry because it can now easily cover and waterproof digits, cavities, or protrusions.Dr John Tang, Founder of Twin Catalyst Sdn Bhd
For instance, Twin Catalyst is looking into using this tech for condom urinary catheters, stoma bags or in negative pressure wound therapy.
Besides barrier film, they are also developing a new kind of oral device to prevent dental debris from falling into the throat as well a new kind of wheelchair that can make transferring patients in nursing homes easier.
He’s Got Us All Covered
Dr Tang shared that over RM5 million has been put into the R&D of Wondaleaf, including the costs of patents, regulatory compliance, testing, clinical trials, and logistics.
This isn’t surprising given how medical innovations tend to come from large pharmaceutical companies and not SMEs.
Twin Catalyst Sdn Bhd was also the recipient of several Malaysian federal innovation grants.
Over the next 2 years, Dr Tang hopes to see Wondaleaf condoms being adopted by United Nations Population Fund and United States Agency For International Development, to help prevent the spread of HIV and other STDs.
For now, you can get Wondaleaf Cap condoms that come in a pack of 2 (with lubricant) from Lazada at RM9.99.
- You can read more about what we’ve written on health here.
Featured Image Credit: Wondaleaf