Researchers have come up with self lubricating condoms that become slippery or lubricated once they come in contact with skin. This would not only raise the pleasure factor of condom usage they feel, but in turn also raise usage of condoms and reduce the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unwanted pregnancies. This novel condom can stay lubricated for over 1,000 thrusts, say researchers. The study was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The results of the study that tried the usage of these novel condoms were published in the latest issue of the Royal Society Open Science journal. The team used a rubber latex material for the condoms and coated it with a thin layer of a hydrophilic polymer mix. This polymer on mixing with moisture becomes slippery and this helps the lubrication last longer and further lubrication during intercourse is not necessary. The slipperiness can last for over 1000 thrusts say the researchers and this would score over the regular condoms. Regular condoms lose their slipperiness after around 600 thrusts, the team explains. A typical sexual intercourse lasts for around 100 to 500 thrusts.
Latex surface modification to afford a hydrophilic, lubricious thin polymer coating. (a) The coating scheme is comprised of polymer entrapment of lubricious PVP within macroinitiator HEA/BP, followed by exposure to light activation and chemical cross-linking among HEA/BP, PVP and the latex surface. (b) Photographs of non-coated and coated latex condoms. (c) Scanning electron micrographs of non-coated and coated latex; scale bar, 1 µm. Image Credit: THE ROYAL SOCIETY
The team of researchers led by Prof Mark Grinstaff, from Boston University explained that the condom coated with the polymers feels slimy to touch when it is dry and it needs fluid to “activate” it into a “slick” condom ready for use. Grindstaff said, “The idea was could we come up with technology where the condom would be kind of self-lubricating? In other words, in the presence of just moisture or water or vaginal fluids, it would basically become slippery.” The polymer mix can be applied over the condom using a 30 minute exposure to UV light and two catalysts. When the polymer comes in contact with water it holds on to it making it slippery, explained Grindstaff.
He explained that lack of lubrication, risk of breakage, discomfort etc. are the major reasons why condoms usage is on the decline. In a survey last year condom usage was found to be less than half of the individuals sleeping with new sexual partners in UK. This could play a role in spreading sexually transmitted diseases and also lead to unwanted pregnancies explain experts.
For this trial the team included 33 participants (13 men) testing regular and this novel type of condoms. Results showed that 73 percent rated these coated condoms over regular ones. Around 43 percent of the study participants who “never use condoms” said that this type of condom would increase their condom use and 86 percent said this type of slippery condom would be their preference over regular ones.
Grindstaff said in a statement that clinical trials in real life scenarios would begin start of next year to prove the efficacy, strength and safety of this condom. He said, “The next step would be a study with partners to see if in fact this does translate to a physical outcome of more enjoyable sex.” He added that condom development technology advance took place around five decades ago. It is time innovations come into this form of contraceptive he said.
A patent application has been filed by Boston University for the technology.