A South African inventor claims to have found a solution to a common romantic moodspoiler — putting on a male condom.

Capetonian Willem van Rensburg is marketing his Pronto condom as an answer to the annoyance of tearing off condom wrappers and figuring out the right way up, saying his patent can be donned in less than three seconds.

"Using an ordinary condom is a real pain," he states on his product website. "By the time the condom is on, the mood is halfway out the window."

The new condom, already available on the South African market, is applied without having to first remove it from the wrapper.

The wrapper is simply snapped open in the middle, and the two sides gripped to roll the condom directly over the penis, pulled off and discarded.

"If you’re slow, it’ll take you three seconds. You can really do it in one," Van Rensburg’s former partner Roelf Mulder told AFP Sunday. Mulder, who helped develop the mechanism, explained the wrapper contains tiny, soft plastic hooks that unroll the condom from the inside as the wrapper is pulled downward.

Van Rensburg’s idea for the patent, said Mulder, was born from a number of studies finding the "struggle factor" largely responsible for people shunning condoms in a country with one of the world’s highest AIDS figures.

"Many people complain it spoils the moment."

The new product should be better than its traditional predecessor at curbing sexually transmitted diseases, said Mulder. The old condom was sometimes contaminated while attempting to roll it down the wrong way before being turned inside out and re-used.

"The Pronto condom can only be applied one way," said Mulder. "The packaging is clearly marked and there are dents where it must be gripped to roll it down."

The pair won a South African Bureau of Standards design award with the condom in 2002, and Van Rensburg has subsequently patented it in several countries, including the United States.

A factory is based in Stellenbosch, outside Cape Town, but there are no immediate plans to supply the world market.

The condom, developed with the help of a private financier, became available for sale at South African retailers and pharmacies this week at the same cost as conventional "premium-priced" condoms.