Keeping Sexy Safe
June 30, 2014

Keeping Sexy Safe

The American Chemical Society recently released a video on its Reactions YouTube channel about how chemistry has helped make sexy safe and how it continues to do so. The video highlights four different ways (or sexual innovations as the video says) that chemistry has contributed to safe sexy time: condoms, lubricants, birth control, and emergency contraception.


Chemistry is highly involved in how the condom helps keep sexy safe. See, the condom is made from latex, a stretchy polymer from plants. In fact, 10 percent of all flowering plants contain latex. As the video explains, “Polymers are large molecules made out of chains of smaller molecules called monomers. In the case of latex, the monomer is isoprene.”

When used as they should be, condoms are great at stopping sperm from reaching their end goal to fertilize the unfertilized egg. The best parts of condoms are that they are cheap, reliable, and help to protect from unwanted pregnancies as well as unwanted sexually transmitted diseases. Here’s a shout out to chemistry for the condom!


Lubricants (also known as lube) have been used in the bed as a means to help smooth the condom use out as well as generally contribute to the sensations of sexy time. Lubricants are particularly important with condoms as they help to keep the condom from ripping during intercourse. Friction happens during sex, which can damage the condom, but lubes help to create a film between two areas in order to prevent damage.

Beyond condom use, lubricants can also be a part of sexual life in that they can be meant to enhance sensations. Many lubes have a warming sensation added to them to help stimulate feeling. This warming sensation comes from glycerol or even capsaicin, which originates in hot peppers. Talk about spicing up the bedroom!

Lubes come in three forms: water-based, oil-based, and silicone-based. Oil-based lubricants cause more friction and breakdown in condoms because the petroleum eats latex, so it is best to use either a water-based or silicone-based lube when using it with condoms.

Thanks to chemistry, lubricants are a healthy and safe way to engage in fun bedroom activities.

Birth Control

Chemistry was and continues to be integral in the commonly used form of birth control known as the pill. The birth control pill works by combining progestin with estrogen in order to help control the ovulation cycle and therefore prevent pregnancy by preventing egg release.

Plan B

In addition to chemistry’s role in birth control is its role in the production of Plan B. Now, this is a controversial form of birth control, but regardless of politics, its use and benefits come directly from chemistry. Plan B is used up to 72 hours after unprotected sex or if a condom breaks to help prevent fertilization of the egg.

This is a great video to show to everyone to help teach about the different methods of having safe sexy time. Chemistry plays important roles in our daily lives all over the place, from the kitchen to the bathroom to the living room and the bedroom. Without chemistry, our lives would be significantly different. So the next time you’re getting it on, give a shout out thanks to chemistry for helping to make sexy safer!

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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