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article imageThe search for the world's perfect condom

By Karen Graham     Nov 23, 2013 in Lifestyle
Condoms have been around for at least the last 400 years, and then only used as a protection against pregnancy. As a protection from STD's, the history is more recent. Regardless of these facts, men really aren't too thrilled about using them.
The use of condoms has grown significantly worldwide since the 1980's, when it was found that AIDS could be a sexually-transmitted disease (STD). And while there was some resistance from some religious institutions and political figures, national campaigns in the U.S. and Europe did a great deal to increase their usage.
But even though people accepted the medical reasons for using condoms for protection against STDs), condoms as a whole did not make a "fashion statement." Condoms have not gone through many technological advancements since someone hundreds of years ago decided to use a piece of sheep intestine tied over the end of the penis as a protection against contraception.
Condoms in use today have changed very little in the last 400 years.
Condoms in use today have changed very little in the last 400 years.
Other than changing the basic material from which they were made to latex, they are still the same in most respects. The biggest complaint, or so I'm told, is that they decrease a man's sexual pleasure during intercourse by cutting down on important "sensations." Other complaints have centered around the packaging, as well as the lack of sizes. It was time for somebody to come up with a "better mousetrap," so to speak.
In March of 2013, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s "Grand Challenges in Global Health" took on the challenge of finding out if someone could invent the "next generation" of condom, one that would not only benefit global health, but enhance a man's sexual pleasure, be pleasing to the eye, and worthwhile for a man to wear when having intercourse. The prize was a grant worth $100,000.
This week, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation made good on its promise to award $100,000 grants to innovators of the next generation of condoms. In all, eleven grants worth $100,000 each were given out. There was a total of 812 entries in the competition, and of the eleven selected, those that show further promise will get an additional grant worth $1 million.
Designs in the "next generation" of condoms included a condom that could be "applied all in one motion. Called the Rapidon, it was submitted by Kimbranox Ltd. in South Africa.
Another entry proposes to use graphene, a carbon material said to be the world's thinnest, yet strongest material. The condom is supposed to have a universal-fit and get tighter during intercourse.
There were also entries that included a condom that "wraps and clings," rather than squeezing, and ones made of super-resilient polymers that would stretch without losing their original shape.
It will be interesting to see which condom rises to the top of the heap. It looks like the plain old latex sheath we all grew up with will soon be replaced by a new, innovative and technically superior condom, the "super-condom."
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