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Can Making Condoms Self-Lubricating Improve Usage Rates?

Condoms have existed for thousands of years. According to the University of California, Santa Barbara, the condom may actually date back to 11,000 B.C., when it was first depicted in cave drawings. However, the condom didn’t take its current latex form until the early 1900s. And while there have been a few innovations to the contraceptive device since that time, not much has changed… until now.  

Meet the self-lubricating condom, a protective sheath that takes on a slick and slippery quality in the presence of natural bodily fluids.

The condom was developed by scientists at Boston University, and according to a study published by The Royal Society Publishing, the condom came about after the team assessed the performance of current condoms on the market.

"A majority of participants — 73 percent — expressed a preference for a condom containing the lubricious coating, agreeing that an inherently slippery condom that remains slippery for a long duration would increase their condom usage," the team said in a statement. However, even with lubrication, some expressed pain and/or discomfort, which is why many people opt not to use condoms at all.

As such, the scientists set out to develop a better alternative, and it seems they did. 

Unlike water- or oil-based lubricating condoms, the hydrophilic, "liquid-loving" latex condom "retains its ‘slippery sensation’ almost indefinitely," according to the statement. What’s more, the polymer coating does not affect the effectiveness of the condom and "provides consistently low friction even when subjected to large volumes of water, or 1000 cycles of articulation," the study reported.

That said, it may still be some time before the condom is consumer-ready. The study was small in scope — i.e., it included just 33 participants — and the new condoms have yet to be tested during sex; however, the scientists are optimistic and have already filed a patent for the self-lubricating condoms.

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