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Can a New Condom Improve Sexual Pleasure for Men and Women?

New research assesses the sexual pleasure of couples using the new condom.

Joanna Nix/Unsplash
Source: Joanna Nix/Unsplash

New research by Gallo and colleagues (2022), published last week in The Journal of Sex Research, tests a new condom created by Futura Medical—a pharmaceutical company in the UK.

This new condom “was designed to increase sexual pleasure by increasing penile blood flow and thereby maximizing erection hardness.” The condom contains a gel "designed to increase penile firmness, penile size, and erection duration.” The report by Gallo et al. details randomized experimental research comparing the self-reported sexual pleasure of couples using the new condom, CSD500, with that of couples using traditional latex condoms.

As the authors reviewed, condoms are the only method of birth control that also prevents sexually-transmitted infections. However, some couples believe that using condoms diminishes their sexual pleasure, which can negatively impact their intention to use condoms, as well as actual condom use.

The data for this experiment were collected at a health center in Vietnam. Both members of heterosexual couples stated that they planned to use only condoms for birth control over the following six months.

Five hundred couples were assigned either to the new condom (N=248), the CSD500, or a control condom (N=252), a “lubricated latex condom that was similar in size.” Individuals with some medical conditions such as low blood pressure or a heart condition were excluded from participation. For this study, women were the primary participants, as the authors reasoned that “women typically bear the responsibility for condom and contraception uptake in clinic settings.” The average age of women in the sample was 32 years old.

Women in the control condition were told “to use the condoms for pregnancy and disease prevention.” Women in the experimental group were told that the new condom had the potential to increase sexual pleasure. The women were told that these condoms “make sex more fun for the couple. The condoms contain a special gel that makes the man’s erection get harder and last longer. This can make sex more pleasurable for the couple.”

Women were surveyed at two months, four months, and six months. Men were surveyed only at the six-month follow-up. The authors used the Quality of Sexual Experience (QSE) scale to measure sexual pleasure for both men and women, as well as a separate scale for men measuring their sexual experiences with regard to their erections, as well as their own and their partner’s sexual satisfaction. The authors also measured men’s feelings about condom use.

At the six-month follow-up, both men and women in the experimental group scored higher on the QSE scale, indicating more sexual pleasure and stronger sexual satisfaction. Men’s reports of their own sexual experiences (with regard to erections, individual and couple satisfaction) were also higher in the experimental group relative to the control group.

Importantly, men in the experimental group also reported more positive attitudes toward condom use than their counterparts in the control condition. For example, almost half the men in the experimental group agreed that sex with the condom lasted longer, compared with only 5 percent of men in the control condition; and 15 percent of men in the experimental condition reported that “sex with the condom felt ‘a lot better’ compared with sex without a condom” compared to only 5 percent in the control condition.

The authors acknowledged that this research was conducted in an unblinded fashion. Therefore participants in the experimental group could have been vulnerable to the placebo effect — or the instructions “could have primed women, and indirectly their male partner, to expect and notice more pleasure from using the condom.”

The authors concluded that this new condom increases sexual pleasure for both men and women in heterosexual couples. Importantly, the authors state that “a condom that increases sexual pleasure could hold public health importance globally for the prevention of both HIV/STIs and unintended pregnancy.”

Because in this study only women were informed about the expectation for greater sexual pleasure, the authors suggest that in the future, “directly counseling men to expect greater pleasure with CSD500 might lead to stronger effects.”

The authors also proposed that future research should explore the potential benefits of this condom in other geographic locations as well as with individuals who are not in long-term or heterosexual partnerships.

References

Gallo, M. F., Nguyen, N. C., Luff, A., Luong, T. N., Le, V. T., Casterline, J., & Andridge, R. (2022). Effects of a Novel Erectogenic Condom on Men and Women’s Sexual Pleasure: Randomized Controlled Trial. The Journal of Sex Research, 1-7. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00224499.2021.2024790

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