Skip to content
Surprising Science

Next-Generation Condom is a High-Tech Mesh

The condom has remained essentially unchanged since the 1920s but now researchers at the University of Michigan are proposing a high-tech polymer as the next-generation contraceptive. 

What’s the Latest Development?

Essentially unchanged since the 1920s, researchers want to give the condom a high-tech makeover to better prevent HIV and, by reducing its effect on sexual pleasure, increase rates of use. “Bioengineers mixed two HIV medications, a Herpes treatment, and a spermicide into two different polymers that the body safely degrades and absorbs over a few days. The liquified polymers passed through an electric field that drew them into fibers several hundred nanometers thick, roughly the wavelength of visible light. The fibers collected into a mesh on a mold in the shape of a tampon applicator.”

What’s the Big Idea?

While a new method of contraception may allow more women more control in terms of disease prevention and family planning, such a product cannot solve the greatest challengeensuring that everyone has access to them. “Despite the low cost of condoms, 222 million women report that they still do not have sufficient access to contraceptives. These women account for nearly 80% of unintended pregnancies around the world. Until the ‘condom of the future’ arrives, we should focus on providing everyone access to the reliable old latex.”

Photo credit:


Up Next