Sex: Scientists designing a revolutionary condom that could 'feel better than nothing at all'

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Scientists from the University of Wollongong are designing ultra-durable condoms they claim could feel even better than nothing at all.

The contraceptive is made with hydrogel, a strong and flexible solid which can be made to feel and act like human tissue.

The groundbreaking design will eventually offer functions like self-lubrication, topical drug delivery, and even electric conductivity, dramatically changing the capacity of male contraception.

The Australian team behind the design, led by materials scientist Robert Gorkin, won a grant for a next generation condom in 2013, giving them access to US$100,000 to use on research.

'Our original idea was just to try to prove that an original material could replace latex,' Mr Gorkin said.

'We were starting from scratch, we had an idea that these new materials would have the same properties as rubber with a nicer feel, but we weren't sure if they had the right properties for a condom.'

'The early indications are that the materials are strong enough and actually do prevent against the transfer of small biological molecules,' he said.

Hydrogel has been around for decades, but it has risen to prominence in recent years, after being used in prosthetics for the likes of eye implants and blood vessels.

The researchers now plan to partner with Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne to conduct biometric testing to measure the bodies response to the material.

'We'll be able to look at brain activity to see whether it really feels better than latex,' said Gorkin.

'If you make them so pleasurable that people can't wait to put them on, then more people will use them, and we can hopefully stop the spread of disease. It's as simple as that.'
Gorkin is hoping to design the product to accommodate for the around the cultural and social needs for birth control.

'It's a branding exercise as much as a scientific one,' said Gorkin. 'A material alone can't change the way we look at sex, but we believe it can definitely help.'

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