In Brief

Improving Condoms: New Materials Could Enhance Sexual Pleasure

(Image credit: Dreamstime)

Can condoms be designed to make sex more pleasurable? That's the idea behind several new projects, which aim to re-invent the condom so that it enhances, or at least maintains, sexual pleasure, rather than decreasing pleasure, as condoms are currently perceived to do.

One project, from researchers at the University of Tennessee, will attempt to make condoms thinner using materials called superelastomers, which can be stretched further than existing rubbers. Another project, from researchers at University of Manchester, will attempt to re-invent the condom with a material called graphene, along with latex. The combined material will be thinner, stronger, more stretchy, and maybe more pleasurable, according to the Telegraph.

Both projects received $100,000 in funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as part of the "Next Generation of Condom" challenge. The organization notes that condoms have been around for about 400 years, but have undergone very little improvement in the last 50 years. The hope is that, by making condoms that are more pleasurable to wear, men around the world will be more likely to use them, which will reduce the spread of sexually transmitted disease, as well as unplanned pregnancy.

Rachael Rettner

Rachael is a Live Science contributor, and was a former channel editor and senior writer for Live Science between 2010 and 2022. She has a master's degree in journalism from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. She also holds a B.S. in molecular biology and an M.S. in biology from the University of California, San Diego. Her work has appeared in Scienceline, The Washington Post and Scientific American.