Condoms have a reputation for putting pleasure on ice and breaking at the most inopportune moments.

But a new design from the Swedish sex toy manufacturer Lelo Hex will have wearers feeling the love in terms of sensation and safety, thanks to its honeycomb-like structure.

The condom, which is made from a thin but strong material called graphene, is covered in 350 hexagons on the inside to prevent slippage during sex. And it’s not heavy duty either: the rubber is just 0.055 mm thick, making it comparable to offerings from leading brands such as Trojan and Durex. Lelo’s CMO Steve Thomson explains why this new sheath is going to be riding high. 

What led you to develop Lelo Hex? 

We developed Lelo Hex because of the demand for a new condom and the opportunity to make a radical difference. STIs are on the rise and condoms have failed to keep up, with the result that too many people don’t like wearing them. So we’re out to change people’s minds about condoms, by changing the condom itself. At the same time, we’re out to light a fire under the major condom brands by challenging them to start innovating for themselves. There’s been no change for 70 years, and frankly, consumers deserve much, much better.

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Do you want to redefine how we use condoms? 

We don’t aim to redefine how people use condoms, but how they see and experience them. During our research one thing became clear: availability of condoms is not the issue to increase condom use, appeal is. Lelo Hex is a condom that looks and feels different – it’s already proven to be a condom people actually want to wear (with 400,000 sold on pre-order in the first five days). And ultimately, in the fight against STIs, you can shout and scream all you want on the importance of safe sex, but you’ll get much further if you give people genuine reasons to want to practice it. Talk is talk, and yes it’s vitally important, but innovation is what really changes things.

Why haven’t condoms been redesigned in the last 70 years?

There’s a kind of inertia in the condom industry and it’s crazy when you think about it. Every other aspect of our lives has undergone some kind of technological advance: The way we communicate, the way we travel, they way we make our food – everything is different today from how it was as recently as 20 years ago. The condom, though, hasn’t changed since the introduction of the reservoir tip in the 1950s. Sure, you can argue dots, ribs, colors and flavors are advances but those aren’t real changes. To change people’s perceptions of condoms, we had to change the condom itself.

The problem is that the condom market is controlled by a couple of very big companies, and as a result they’re under no pressure to innovate. Maybe they’ve forgotten how to? But that lack of innovation can only last so long before people get bored – and that’s happening right now. People are using condoms less because they haven’t improved for decades. 

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Can you explain how the hexagonal web works?

The hexagonal web works by giving this new condom a structure that we see everywhere from soccer nets and airplane wings, to roofing and suspension bridges – anything that needs a solution that is strong, thin and light.

We experimented with a huge number of variants in terms of number of cells and depth of the web because this alters the experience dramatically, but finally settled on a controlled network of 350 cells covering each individual Hex. The latex within each Hex is ultra-thin, while the web is marginally thicker to re-enforce the condom, delivering strength, thinness and sensation. It also offers a number of additional advantages.

What advantages does LELO offer over common condoms?

It looks really cool. No, seriously. One unexpected outcome of re-engineering the condom is actually that Hex is a cool-looking condom. 

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While the structure allows us to deliver thinness and strength combined, the fact that the web is raised on the inside of the condom is another unique feature, similar to wet tires in Formula One, which have grooves to reduce the chances of slippage. Hexagons are also known to tessellate perfectly and mold to a wide variety of shapes, which means this condom delivers comfort to wearers. Ultimately though, Lelo Hex looks and feels different – and that’s all down to the structure.

What about sensitivity and safety?

Sensitivity is, of course, a subjective and personal matter. Everybody experiences sexual sensations differently, but what we can say is that our testers and many of the early reviewers have told us it’s more sensitive than anything they’ve used before. It’s about the transference of warmth and sensation through the hexagonal web – it’s structure in play again. We’ve heard the same from others in the know too, from journalists to celebrities. As for safety, that’s absolutely at the heart of Hex.

Take a ride in the Lelo Hex

You can buy Lelo Hex now via lelo.com and it will be shipping out at the end of August, 2016.

—Daniel Casillas