In a first, researchers from Boston University have created what they’re referring to as a “self lubricating” condom – and one condom maker is already standing at attention.
Unlike currently available lubricated options, the condoms designed by the team at BU have a polymer coating that can trap in moisture collected in water and body fluids on the surface of the condom, resulting in a self-lubricating condom that can remain slippery throughout use without the need to add any additional lubrication.
Existing condoms usually use silicon-based lubricants that can repel moisture, leading the surface to become slightly sticky and require assistance to remain slick and effective.
So far, the new condom has not been fully tested, but a “touch test” and survey has shown promising results. 85% of those who participated in the study felt that the new material was the most slippery, compared to traditional latex condoms as well as condoms in combination with lubricant.
“People found [the slipperiness] to be an attractive feature,” said Mark Grinstaff, one of the researchers behind the study. “Those in our survey who don’t typically use a condom said they would consider using a condom if it stayed slippery like this.”
Nine out of ten participants said they would use a condom made of this material over the usual latex condom.
The research into the material has gone on for roughly three years, and has included nearly 1000 different formulations to reach the current material.
The project started after a call for proposals from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, who were pushing for new technologies that could increase the adoption of condoms globally. The Foundation awarded $100,000 to the 11 researchers on this project.
“Preventing the spread of HIV and other diseases is critically important,” said Grinstaff. “That really was the driving force for creating new technology here.”
As the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) has grown, the use of condoms has diminished as a protection for HIV. As a result, incidence of other STI’s has likewise grown.
Stacy Chin, another of the study’s coauthors, is the CEO of HydroGlyde Coatings. HydroGlyde Coatings has already raised $1.4M in funding to bring this material to market.