Without a doubt, condoms are one of the most effective and cost-effective preventative measures in global health interventions. When applied properly, condoms have a 98% success rate in preventing unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS.
According to UNAIDS, condoms have been responsible for preventing over 40 million HIV infections since 1990.
On the other hand, while the rate of unwanted pregnancies has gone down, roughly 40 percent of pregnancies in the world are still unintended and although the rate of HIV infection has declined, 2017 also saw 1.8 million new infections.
Also, it is estimated that about 40 percent of men and women did not use condoms the last time they engaged in sexual intercourse with a person who wasn’t their partner.
This is buttressed by a different study conducted by YouGov and Public Health England with a sample size of over 2000 individuals between the ages of 16 and 24. The study found that 47% of the participants had recently had sex with a new partner without using a condom.
These findings beg the question; why aren’t people using condoms? Well, some people say that sexual intercourse with a condom just doesn’t feel as good, while others say that condoms cause them pain and discomfort. This is what inspired the development and manufacture of self-lubricating condoms.
As opposed to water/silicon-based lubricants found in conventional condoms, which can be messy and, in fact, repel moisture; self-lubricating condoms have a hydrophilic polymer coat that captures moisture from bodily fluids, trapping the liquid on the surface of the condom.
This is possible through a process called the ‘lubricious surface treatment technique’. The hydrophilic polymers form extremely strong chemical bonds between themselves and the latex, which means that the coating does not come off as easily as water/silicon-based lubricants.
Most importantly, the polymer does not compromise the integrity of the latex, meaning that the level of protection remains just as high.
Although conventional latex condoms have been quite effective so far, they also tend to have high surface friction, which can genuinely lead to numerous issues during intercourse. For example, discomfort and condom breakage.
For most people, without sufficient lubrication, sex can be a painful and uncomfortable experience, and the condom may even end up slipping off or breaking.
The self-lubricating condom, developed by a team if Boston University researchers, however, has a self-lubricating coating that consistently decreases friction-associated discomfort and pain, increasing sexual satisfaction and encouraging condom use at the same time.
The team from Boston University was backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as part of the foundation’s challenge to design a better condom. This team’s groundbreaking product awarded them a $100,000 grant to further their research.
In the course of their research, the team conducted a study where participants were requested to touch a non-lubricated, a lubricated, and the new self-lubricating condoms and give feedback and which condom they preferred and, more importantly, which one they were more likely to use.
The study found that as high as 73% of the participants preferred the self-lubricating condom, even those who did not understand the mechanics behind the innovation and had never used it.
The self-lubricating condom could, therefore, offer users an alternative that causes them less pain and discomfort, keeping everything smooth and lubricated throughout the process of intercourse.
According to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, this new and innovative condom will have substantial benefits in terms of preventing sexually transmitted diseases and reducing the rate of unwanted pregnancies across the world.