Building the Better Condom

By Shanti Maharaj

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<p>Bill Gates wants you to have safer—and more pleasurable—sex<br></p>


Condoms haven't really changed since the invention of latex in the 1920s (although condoms in different materials, like linen or animal intestine, have been used for centuries). Nobody really enjoys using them, but if you're having sex and prefer to stay disease- and baby-free, you need one. Unfortunately, plenty of us know how important condoms are and still don't use them, for any number of reasons: the smell of latex, the annoyance of having to stop what you're doing to put one on and, of course, the reduction in sensation. Since going without a condom can literally be a death sentence, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation decided that since just telling guys "Wrap it up, already!" hasn't led to everyone taking that advice, it was time to throw some resources at the problem. To that end, they've begun handing out grants to anyone who can come up with a condom people actually want to use. We here at Playboy.com are all for safe sex, so we wanted to put together a list of some of the options on the market right now and some of our favorite new designs that we think will be worth a try.

Old reliable, or possibly old unreliable, plain old latex condoms protect you against pregnancy and STIs but have a bad rap for reducing sensation. They can also be tricky to put on, and putting a condom on incorrectly means it’s more likely to break or slip off. But they’re cheap, available almost everywhere and, as long as you do use them correctly, effective at reducing risk.

South African company Kimbranox’s answer to the condom problem was to design a special applicator to make putting on a condom extremely easy. We, however, foresee some issues if you’re trying to put one of these on while drunk. The Rapidom looks promising, but keep in mind the condom inside is your standard-issue latex, so once it’s on it will still feel exactly the same as what you’ve been using.

We remember hearing about female condoms a lot back in high school sex ed but we’ve never seen one in the wild. Unlike male condoms, which have to be put on in the heat of the moment, the woman can insert the female condom up to eight hours before sex, and you can use it even if your stiffy is a bit softy. Users report that they also feel much more like having bareback sex. The only hitch is that it costs about twice as much as a male condom and, like all things new, it’ll take a little bit of practice to get the hang of.

Don’t try this one if your girlfriend is vegan! One of the new types of condoms in development now, the goal is to produce a condom made from the collagen in beef tendons with the same texture as human skin for the ultimate in sensitivity. Since the raw material is waste from meat processing it will probably be cheap, but it looks like it might require delicate handling and we’re waiting to hear how effective it will be against diseases, considering that lambskin condoms don’t protect against HIV or other STIs. Also it’s made of beef tendons…so there’s that too.

The Unique Condom comes in a flat credit card–sized package and has two pull tabs to make it easier to apply. It’s made of polyethylene, the same thing sandwich bags are made of. Coincidentally, it looks, feels and sounds like a crinkly plastic sandwich bag too. Maybe you like that on your penis, but lots of people really, really don’t. It claims to be thinner and more sensitive than latex as well as “seals” to the penis for better sensation. While there’s no real information out there about its effectiveness, they do boast a money-back guarantee, so, uh, good luck.

Superelastomers are polymers that are stretchier and stronger than rubber or latex, so naturally when the subject of a better condom came up, they fit the bill. Not only will a superelastomer condom be thinner, stronger and softer than a traditional one, it should be cheaper as well, making it a big win in developing countries as well as here.

Origami has come up with not one but three revolutionary condom designs which aim to make sex both safer and more pleasurable. Their condoms are made from silicone with a unique accordion-pleated surface to encourage movement and friction, as well as to make them easier to use. In addition to their male and female condoms, Origami is the only company on our list making a condom specifically for the receptive partner in anal sex. While we foresee a hefty price tag on these since silicone isn’t the cheapest, we can’t wait to try these!


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