Condoms have been around for 400 years, with very little improvements over the last 50 years, according to Grand Challenges in Global Health, a research foundation established by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – the one that funded a new kind of toilet.
To bring the condom into the 21st century, Global Health is offering the grant to anyone who can develop the best “testable hypothesis” for a condom that can preserve or enhance pleasure. “The primary drawback from the male perspective,” they state is that, “condoms decrease pleasure as compared to no condom, creating a trade-off that many men find unacceptable, particularly given that the decisions about use must be made just prior to intercourse.”
Will this improve the use of condoms in the Middle East, an area that traditionally has shunned the sheath?
According to some reports, condom use in the Middle East is lower than any other region in the world. Worldmapper writes: “Of all the older boys and younger men in the world, 47% report to have used a condom at the last time of high-risk sex. The region with the highest condom use is North America, at 63.5%. The lowest condom use is in the Middle East at 36.8%.” The authors acknowlege that reporting biases make it challenging for researchers to study condom use, particularily with ‘high-risk’ sex acts. High risk sex is define as intercourse with someone a man does not live with or is married to.
An improved condom will do more than make protected sex feel better for men. Condom discomfort is one of the reasons that men and women opt not to use them. Other concerns, especially for women, can include physical irritation, drying, unpleasant smells and taste sensations, suggests Amanda Hess in a Slates article.
We’ve previously reported on the importance of developing female-friendly condoms that are made from sustainable products and are eco-friendly to those who are using them and the planet. That’s why we hope whoever wins the 100,000 grant does more than build a more pleasurable condom: make sure it is eco-conscious too.
If a local inventor wins the grant, they would join Israel recipients who are working to build a better toilet.