Self-lubricating latex could boost condom use, study shows

Modesto Morganelli
Ottobre 17, 2018

Experts say a big-turn off for condom use is a lack of lubrication: current latex condoms are relatively rough, which can lead to breakage and discomfort, while commercial lubricants, including those applied by manufacturers to condoms, wear off during sex and may not be something couples want to apply.

Protective sheaths made with the specially treated membrane take on a slick and slippery quality in the presence of natural bodily fluids, lab experiments showed.

Condoms are used to prevent pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, and can be made of lambskin or commonly synthetic materials such as latex or polyurethane.

Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, the new research involved the use of water-loving polymers that can be bound to the surface of the latex by a 30-minute exposure to UV light in the presence of two other substances.

In a step away from the traditional water- or oil-based condoms now on the market, a team of scientists from Boston University has created a condom that is self-lubricating, becoming slippery when it comes into contact with moisture - for example, bodily fluids.

A perpetually unctuous, self-lubricating latex developed by a team of scientists in Boston could boost the use of condoms, they reported today in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

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.

Condom technology could be on the verge of a revolution - and our penises and vaginas will be the winners, say researchers.

The team also asked a small group of 33 participants, 13 of whom were male, to feel the three types of material before and after they had been dunked in water, without being aware of which was which.

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.

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. "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 said, adding that tests had shown the self-lubricating latex matched up to existing materials for strength and safety against leakage.

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