Despite preventing unwanted pregnancy and a number of sexually transmitted diseases, not everyone is in favor of condoms, claiming that they are uncomfortable and decrease sexual pleasure. To solve this problem, scientists at the University of Wollongong and University of Texas have been working independently on the condom of the future. The innovative design would offer features such as pleasurable self-lubrication and anti-HIV drug administration.
Self-lubricating hydrogel condom
These condoms are made of hydrogel, a strong and flexible material that can simulate human tissue. Hydrogel has been known for decades, but gained importance in recent years for its use in ocular implants and blood vessels. Hydrogel condoms would be able to self-lubricate owing to the fact that the material is composed predominantly of water trapped by polymer molecules. According to the scientists, an hydrogel condom could be even more pleasurable than wearing nothing at all.
Two independent efforts
The development at the Australian University of Wollongong was headed by Dr. Robert Gorkin. He stated that the goal was to create a condom so pleasurable that people would always want to use it. The Australian scientists’ design was presumably capable of providing electrical stimulation, which would enhance sexual pleasure.
Another venture, in the University of Texas, showcased a similar project. This development was headed by Dr. Mahua Choudhury. The assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center explains that their hydrogel condom design is suitable for latex-allergic people, plus the condom releases a plant-based antioxidant that helps combat HIV. She claims that this antioxidant (quercetin) also has stimulating properties that enhance the sexual experience by promoting physiological arousal (helps the male maintain an erection). Further testing is needed to evaluate how bodies respond to the material, its resistance and permeability, and how the antioxidant and/or electrical properties would work.
Both research projects were funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation through a Grand Challenges Exploration initiative that kick off in September, 2013. The subject was to create the next generation of condoms that would help solve HIV-related global health problems.
Changing habits with stronger incentive
Only 5% of men worldwide use condoms. This low number can be explained by discomfort and sociocultural factors. Unfortunately, this means that the incidence of STDs in underdeveloped countries remains relatively high.
The innovative pleasure-inducing hydrogel condom could help mitigate this scenario very quickly and even work as an alternative to Viagra. This solution would be most beneficial in regions where sexual health and education are very poor.