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Laboratories are always busy developing the perfect condom

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The condom is a highly technological product. Having already been the subject of much research and innovation, this tool continues to attract the attention of researchers. They are also working on new materials and new characteristics.

The condom: a successful public utility product

In Roman times, animal bladders were used as a means of protecting the penis. The Chinese made condoms with oiled tissue paper. Today, in 2021, the condom is the only contraceptive that also protects against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). This dual use has therefore naturally made its success. According to a study by Global Market Overview in 2018, it sells about 30 million per year (including 70% latex) with market growth of 8%.

The condom is undoubtedly a highly technological product. Indeed, it is at the heart of much research. Let us quote for example the famous British brand Durex, one of the world leaders, at the origin of many innovations. The brand has developed condoms with ribs (or pearls), others with a lubricant that prolongs the erection or even with a special fragrance. There are even condoms presented as biodegradable.

So, of course, this indicates a marketing desire. However, it is also a question of continuing to democratize this public utility product. The fact remains that users are just as many consumers that must be seduced.

A race for the ideal material

In laboratories, research is therefore continuing to develop the condoms of tomorrow. Aravind Vijayaraghavan is a Materials Science Specialist at the University of Manchester (UK). In 2016, he presented an innovation incorporating a particular material : graphene, an ultra-fine sheet of carbon atoms. According to the scientist, it is the thinnest, lightest and strongest heat-conducting material in the world. When graphene is combined with latex (or polyurethane), it allows a 60% increase in resistance. This also allows for a 20% reduction in thickness, while maintaining similar strength.

Credit: University of Manchester

Also in 2016, other researchers from the University of Queensland (Australia) presented their work. These concerned the spinifex resin that Aboriginal communities have long used as an adhesive. The researchers carried out tests and according to the results, the condom withstands pressure much better. In addition, other innovations aim to replace latex with other less allergenic materials.

Finally, you should know that the race for the perfect condom is not about not just the materials. Some are working on a condom capable of self-adjusting to the size of the penis or even comprising an applicator allowing it to be put on without touching it.


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