This Week in Sex: Hands-Free Vibrator Gets Award, Then Dissed at Vegas Electronics Show

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This Week in Sex: Hands-Free Vibrator Gets Award, Then Dissed at Vegas Electronics Show

Martha Kempner

Organizers suggested the new sex toy was indecent. Last year's voluptuous sex robot Solana didn't seem to bother them.

This Week in Sex is a weekly summary of news and research related to sexual behavior, sexuality education, contraception, STIs, and more.

Gender Bias at a Tech Trade Show? 

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) ends Friday in Las Vegas. At the annual event, thousands of companies roll out their latest must-have gadgets. This year’s thing-a-ma-bobs include a robot that purifies the air as it travels around your house, a voice-controlled toilet, and a camera that uses artificial intelligence to identify poachers in African wildlife reserves.

What’s not on the floor, however, is the Osé, a unique, hands-free vibrator made by tech startup company Lora DiCarlo.

The Osé is designed to simultaneously stimulate the clitoris and the elusive G-spot, an area in the front wall of the vagina that can be particularly sensitive. Lola Vars, the company’s technical director, explained to Engadget that the clitoris spreads out widely under the surface: “Basically, the G-spot is essentially the clitoris being stimulated internally, and our device seeks to stimulate the G-spot and the clitoris at the same time, while also being hands-free.” This is the first product the company has developed.

Before the Las Vegas show, the Osé was given an award in the robotics and drone product category by a panel of judges impressed with its innovation. But the organizers of the conventionat the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) rescinded the award and told the company it could not display its products at the trade show. CTA officials told Fortune in a statement: “The product referenced does not fit into any of our existing product categories and should not have been accepted for the Innovation Awards Program.”

But Lora DiCarlo says the reasons were more complicated than that. The company says it received a letter from conference organizers saying it can disqualify products that they deem “immoral, obscene, indecent, profane or not in keeping with CTA’s image.”

This came as a surprise to many because sex toys have had a place at CES in years past. Vibrator manufacturer OhMiBod won an award at the show in 2016, and Trojan has previously displayed its line of sex toys. Last year, an actual sex robot named Solana (pictured below) was on display at CES last year. And, this year, the adult film studio Naughty America is displaying its wares at CES, though in a private meeting room.

[Photo: Harmony, an AI sex robot, looks at the camera.]

 

Lora Haddock, the CEO and founder of Lora DiCarlo, said in an open letter that the decision smacks of sexism at the trade show. “Men’s sexuality is allowed to be explicit, with a literal sex robot in the shape of an unrealistically proportioned woman and [virtual reality] porn in point of pride along the aisle. Female sexuality, on the other hand, is heavily muted if not outright banned.”

On the bright side, the controversy has brought a lot of media attention to the new company. That will only continue as the adult-entertainment site YouPorn has offered $50,000 worth of advertising for a month when the Osé is released in February.

Multiple Miscarriages? Might Be a Sperm Issue

When a couple suffers multiple miscarriages, doctors most often focus on try to determine what is going wrong in the female reproductive system. But a new study suggests they might be looking for problems and solutions in the wrong place—or, more accurately, the wrong partner.

British researchers examined the sperm of men whose women partners had recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL), which is defined as three or more consecutive miscarriages before 20 weeks of pregnancy. They then compared it to men in a control group. Their results found that the RPL men were more likely to have issues with sperm motility (how well and fast they move) and morphology (their size and shape). They also found that the RPL men were twice as likely to have sperm with DNA damage.

The researchers believe that this DNA damage is due to what’s called reactive oxygen species (ROS) molecules in semen. These molecules are supposed to protect sperm, but if the concentration of ROS is too high, it may actually damage sperm cells. The men in the RPL group had four times the levels of ROS than the control subjects. More research is needed to understand why the ROS levels are higher, but researchers did also noted that men in the RPL group tended to be older and weigh more than those in the control group.

Women with RPL are routinely screened to determine the cause—but their partners are not. Channa Jayasena, the lead author on this study, explained that this should change: “It has taken medicine a long time to realize sperm health has a role to play in miscarriage—and that the cause doesn’t lie solely with women. Now [that] we realize both partners contribute to recurrent miscarriage, we can hopefully get a clearer picture of the problem and start to look for ways of ensuring more pregnancies result in a healthy baby.”

The study had some limitations. It included only 50 men in the RPL group and another 60 in the control group that had no history of multiple miscarriages. Still, Jayasena believes it adds to existing knowledge: “Although this is a small study, it gives us clues to follow. If we confirm in further work that high levels of reactive oxygen species in semen increase the risk of miscarriage, we could try to develop treatments that lower these levels and increase the chance of a healthy pregnancy.”

Quicker Chlamydia Results Are a Win for Women

Many public health experts believe that a rapid test for chlamydia could help curb the ongoing epidemic-level rates of this sexually transmitted infection (STI) because it would allow patients who are infected to leave their doctor’s office with a positive diagnosis, treatment, and the knowledge that they have to contact their previous sexual partners.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University recently studied the effectiveness of one of these rapid tests, the Atlas Genetics test. They wanted to determine not only if it worked as well as tests that take longer to process, but also whether women were comfortable with collecting vaginal swabs for the test and if they agreed that the rapid turnaround of results was important.

They recruited almost 300 women from both an adult STI clinic and a teen health clinic. The women were given the Atlas test alongside a more standard test and were surveyed about their testing experience.

The study found the rapid test was nearly as accurate as the standard test, and the majority of women (86 percent) said the self-collected test was easy. They also said they were willing to wait for results—61 percent said they’d wait 20 minutes if it meant getting any necessary treatment at the same visit, and another 26 percent said they’d wait 40 minutes. Though the point-of-care results were important, most of the women said they’d be willing to pay $20 to take the test at home and send the swab into a lab. Finally, 96 percent of respondents said they would tell their partners about their test results.

Chlamydia is the most common bacterial STI. In 2017, there were more than 1.7 million cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chlamydia is easily treatable but often has no symptoms, making routine testing extremely important. Moreover, if left untreated, it can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which can in turn lead to scarring of the fallopian tubes and infertility.

Getting patients in the door is just one of the hurdles STI test sites face. When test results are delayed, patients (especially those seen in an emergency room) can disappear, miss days of treatment and continue to spread the infections to new or existing partners. Tiffani Bailey Lash, director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, which funded the study, told Healthline: “It was promising to see how well-received the test was among patients. I think the world has been waiting for a point-of-care STD test.”

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