Skin-like, self-lubricating condoms are in the works
A team of researchers at the University of Wollongong in Australia are using a material called hydrogel to create a condom that could enhance sexual pleasure.
According to information released by the U of W, the condom will be invisible and feel more like human skin than latex.
Because hydrogels consist mainly of water, the condom will be self-lubricating.
"Our project is to replace latex," says team leader Dr. Robert Gorkin. "Our team is made up of experts in material science."
Hydrogels are essentially made of water held together by molecular chains called polymers.
Examples of natural polymers include seaweed and shrimp shells, although they can be manufactured synthetically as Gorkin's team is doing.
Gorkin and his team foresee their material enhancing pleasure so much that users will want to wear them rather than feeling obliged in fear of STDs and unwanted pregnancy.
If such is the result, the product could change global views on condom use.
Condoms are well-known to be unpopular, and in 2009 the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, a branch of the US National Institutes of Health, awarded a $423,500 grant to researchers at the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction to find out why.
Gorkin's team just received a 100,000 USD grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's challenge to develop a better condom with the goal of preventing the spread of the HIV virus.