Julianne Kohr designs a vibrator that can be used as an artificial insemination device

Julianne Kohr designs a vibrator that can be used as an artificial insemination device

Design graduate Juliane Kohr presented a range of self-insemination sex toys at Dutch Design Week, which are designed to be used during sex to help pleasure take its rightful place in the assisted conception process.

The Vruit kit comes with a Fleshlight-style masturbator for sperm donation, as well as a choice of two insemination devices – a vibrator or a small silicone cervical cup for those who prefer to forego penetration.

Vruit is a collection of self-insemination sex toys

Although the product can be used by anyone who wants to get pregnant, Kohr designed the range specifically to meet the needs of gay and single people who hope to start a family of their own without a partner.

She says these groups often have to bear the high costs of fertility treatments themselves, as health insurance coverage in many countries can depend on relationship status and sexual orientation.

The kit includes a sperm donation masturbator and two insemination devices

As a result, many end up reaching for home-based solutions, according to conversations Kohr has had with a lesbian feminist midwife group and other community members.

“The problem is that there are hardly any products designed for self-pollination, and very few of them are very technical and clinical,” she told Dezeen.

“A lot of times people have to reach for products like a menstrual cup or syringe. Because ejaculation is so sensitive, things have to happen very quickly and it’s very difficult to have a sensual, comfortable experience.”

One option is a vibrator that is finished in a gender-neutral shade of green

Vruit is designed to accompany users throughout the entire process, from sperm donation to insemination, in an effort to make self-insemination outside of the traditional IVF system “as easy as getting pregnant through heterosexual sex.”

Currently, Kohr says there are no products specifically designed to help people donate sperm, even though this is a crucial step in the process.

The other is a small silicone cover reminiscent of a menstrual cup

“It’s important to include sperm donation because sperm banks are not legally allowed to send to private families,” she told Dezeen.

“This means that you always need to donate your own sperm. The ejaculate is very delicate so it must be protected from environmental influences.”

The Kühr home insemination kit solves this problem with the help of a masturbator with a dedicated cavity in the front, where the vibrator cap or silicone cup can be placed to collect the semen.

After ejaculation, the lid is placed back on the vibrator and the cup is secured with a lid before being placed in an insulated transport box that is passed to the aspiring parent.

This helps maintain sperm at body temperature for two to three hours and protects them from other environmental factors, while also serving as an inductive charging station for the accompanying sex toy.

Those who use vibrators can press a button on the bottom of the device during orgasm to release sperm into the cervix. The silicone cup can then be inserted and worn for up to 24 hours to prevent semen leakage.

The set comes in an insulated transport box

The non-penetrative route simply involves inserting the cup with sperm, with the option of using a vibrator to provide external stimulation.

“Because it’s a little flat, it also helps stimulate the clitoris,” Kohr said. “Orgasm is important because it causes the uterus to contract and move the ejaculate upward.”

The Vruit kit also comes with a custom booklet that walks users through what Kohr calls the “choreography” of insemination and provides them with important information about the legal and physiological questions associated with it.

Ejaculation can be released by pressing the button at the bottom of the vibrator

“(Like) when are my fertile days, how does my cycle work, and how do I get high-quality ejaculations,” she explained. “But there are also legal issues, like how do you adopt a stepchild when the sperm donor doesn’t take on the role of legal parent.”

“It’s about ensuring more self-determination and making the topic more visible because it’s not easy to collect all this information in one place.”

With the exception of the silicone elements, the prototype of Kühr’s work is entirely 3D printed from PLA bioplastic in a gender-neutral shade of green, and is designed to stand out from traditional sex toys.

The silicone cup can be worn for up to 24 hours

Supported by six months of research funding from her university, the Saar Academy of Fine Arts in Germany, the designer is now developing the product and evaluating its commercial viability.

A similar method of intracervical insemination (ICI) is set to be trialled in the UK by the country’s National Health Service (NHS) over the coming months as part of what is said to be the largest at-home fertility treatment study in the world.

The system, developed by UK startup Bea Fertility, involves placing a small cap of semen into the cervix using an applicator.

An accompanying guide explains the “choreography” of pollination

At Dutch Design Week, Vruit was exhibited as part of the German Design Alumni Exhibition, presenting the work of 25 young designers from all over the country selected by curators Jana Schulz and Amelie Klein.

Elsewhere at this year’s festival, the Design Academy Eindhoven’s Graduate Gallery took over disused retail units inside the city’s Heuvel shopping center with projects including furniture made from used books and a running shoe designed for use on Mars.

This interview was conducted in German and translated into English by the author.

Vruit was on display as part of Dutch Design Week 2023 from 21 to 29 October. Check out Dezeen’s events guide for information on the many other exhibitions, installations and talks taking place throughout the week.

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