'Slippery' Self-lubricating Condom That Could Boost Satisfaction Created by Scientists

File photo: A couple tears into a condom packet. Getty Images

Condoms offer great protection against pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. But in practice, they can be uncomfortable and tricky to use. Many Americans are turned off the propitious prophylactics by fears of reduced pleasure and even breakage.

Personal lubricants can improve the condom experience by "reducing friction and yielding a slippery sensation," researchers wrote on Tuesday in the journal Royal Society Open Science. But conventional lube gets diluted in bodily fluid and gradually seeps away during intercourse.

Now, the Boston University team has created a special coating that could one day lead to a more sustainable solution: a self-lubricating condom. Such a product, researchers hope, could reduce discomfort, heighten satisfaction and even increase condom usage.

Employed since antiquity to prevent unplanned pregnancy and the spread of disease, humans have fashioned condoms out of everything from animal intestines to linen. The wife of legendary King Minos of Crete was said to use a goat's bladder during sex to protect herself from the deadly "serpents and scorpions" that laced his semen.

A few thousand years later, latex has far surpassed offal as the material of choice for most condom consumers.

The latest in latex technology, this new coating becomes lubricious when it comes into contact with the body's physiologic fluid. In other words, it becomes slippery when wet.

Researchers found the coated latex performed about as well on friction tests as regular latex "liberally pipetted" with personal lubricant. Both, as you might imagine, outperformed non-coated latex.

After a "touch test," the majority of people surveyed in the study said the coated latex felt slipperier than the other samples and almost 75 percent said they'd prefer a slippery sheath to a regular rubber. What's more, over than half of participants who reportedly "never" use condoms said they would consider using a self-lubricating condom regularly.

Although the results are promising for the latex coating, they are limited by a small survey group of just 33 people. Nonetheless, the authors hope an inherently slippery condom could help increase usage in those at risk of sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancy.

In other prophylactic news, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently urged Americans to stop washing and reusing condoms. "We say it because people do it," the agency tweeted. Meanwhile south of the Florida Straits, Cubans are using the versatile sheaths to fix tire punctures, catch fish and even make wine. At one peso for a box of three, the cheap contraceptives apparently also make great hairbands.