Self-lubricating condom design may encourage safe sex

Maricruz Casares
Octubre 17, 2018

A new self-lubricating latex could drive greater use of contraceptives, according to the team of scientists behind the invention.

"Those water-loving polymers hold on to the water at the surface and that makes it slippery", said Grinstaff, adding that all three substances used are already employed in other medical devices, and that the coating could be added as a final step in condom production without the need to change current the condom manufacturing process.

Their study found that the majority of people surveyed - 73% - not only preferred the feel of the condoms to those now available but also said it would increase their condom use.

A survey past year revealed that nearly half of young people in the United Kingdom do not use a condom when sleeping with a new partner, stoking concerns about the spread of sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies. Some are made of lambskin but most are synthetic, manufactured from latex or polyurethane.

These materials could cause chaffing, however, during what the researchers describe as "repeated articulations" or thrusting motions, thus requiring lubrication - which wears off.

In touch tests, volunteers expressed a strong preference for condoms that were "inherently slippery" and remained so for a long time.

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Discomfort during intercourse and reduced pleasure - noted by 77 per cent of men and 40 per cent of women in a nation-wide survey in the United States - are often cited as reasons for not using condoms at all.

Professor Mark Grinstaff of Boston University told The Guardian, 'The idea was could we come up with technology where the condom would be kind of self-lubricating?

The polymer-treated condoms did not affect the latex, and "provides consistently low friction even when subjected to large volumes of water, or 1000 cycles of articulation", the study reported.

Because the material has yet to be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the liquid-loving latex has yet to be tested during intercourse.

But more than 90 per cent of the volunteers said they would consider using the coated condoms, and more than half said they would likely use condoms more frequently if the perpetually slippery ones were commercially available.

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