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The ultra-thin condom of the future is coming

Rejoice, gentlemen: The ultra-thin condom will be about half the thickness of current available condoms. 


EJ Dickson


Posted on Sep 22, 2014   Updated on May 30, 2021, 1:24 pm CDT

Bill Gates has announced that we’re close to developing an ultra-thin, “skin-like” condom that would be less than half as thick as the thinnest condoms available now. The condoms would presumably increase male pleasure, while protecting women against pregnancy and STIs.

“There are some technological materials that will be able to maintain a [condom] barrier with a very thin, thin material,” Gates said at a recent Q&A session in New Delhi.

Unlike most men who complain about condoms being too thick and “not being able to feel anything,” Gates doesn’t have a personal stake in developing this ultra-thin condom. (I mean, he very well might, but I’d rather not have that mental image in my head.) Last year, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation offered $100,000 in grant money to manufacturers developing the “condom of the future,” or a next-generation condom that would increase male pleasure while still remaining affordable and effective.

So far, the foundation has given grants to a number of submissions, such as a sheath made from “collagen fibrils from cow tendons” that simulates the feel of human skin, and a polyethylene condom that “clings” to the penis, rolling over it “like a sock.” (There’s also this digital “electric eel condom” prototype that fundraised on Indiegogo earlier this year.)

It seems the ultra-thin condom is the leading contender, in part because so many men refuse to wear condoms on the grounds that they reduce sensation. The foundation hopes to see such condoms being introduced in developing countries, where birth control is expensive and there’s often a great deal of stigma surrounding condom usage.

Gates says this ultra-thin condom could be coming sooner than we think. While most investors shy away from funding medications for diseases like malaria or ebola, which don’t necessarily affect those in “developed” countries, “there could be a market for this [thin condom] among well-off nations, which doesn’t happen with a lot of innovations,” he said during the press conference.

At the very least, the development of an ultra-thin condom would give you a quick and easy way to shut down your boyfriend the next time he complains about “not being able to feel anything” during sex. 

H/T Yahoo News via AFP | Photo by Rorro NaviaFlickr (CC BY ND 2.0)

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*First Published: Sep 22, 2014, 11:50 am CDT