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Let's Talk About Sex (And Condoms Of The Future)


In the immortal words of Salt N’ Pepa, let’s talk about sex.

Or at least University of Oregon faculty member Richard Chartoff will, during a presentation about a new-and-improved condom design that responds to body heat. The proposal is part of a global competition to create a condom that men actually want to wear.

Chartoff will speak about his UO research team’s progress at the Eugene’s Downtown Library on Tuesday, Aug. 26 at 6 p.m.

Last summer, the Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation promised $100,000 to the best proposal for a condom design that prevents unwanted pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Eleven researchers worldwide were selected for an initial round of funding, including Chartoff who pitched a condom that shrinks to fit the man.

He hypothesized that a tighter-fit would be more comfortable, and said his design would also be thinner and stronger than traditional condoms.

“There are really two issues, one is disease control and the second is sensitivity of the condom, which may be the biggest cultural barrier,” Chartoff said in an interview with Think Out Loud in 2013. “They’re interested in some kind of material that would have better attributes to improve sensitivity. We’re proposing an super thin design, which would fit like an extra layer of skin.”

 NPR reported that the friendly competition is a part of the Grand Exploration Challenges, which seeks unique and effective solutions to worldwide health problems.

There’s nothing really wrong with condoms, but some men perceive them as taking away from sexual pleasure (which science says is a myth). And with a design that dates back to the 16th century (initially made with animal intestines), condoms are in need of some updating.

Some designs in the running include a condom made of bovine tendons, one that shrinks during intercourse, a condom with its very own applicator and one that conducts heat, among others.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation birth control Eugene University of Oregon condoms

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