December 11, 2012

Sex Just Got Better

Now, I am not a scientist, nor do I claim to be. So bear with as I do my best to explain the good news about sex from the University of Washington. A couple of weeks ago, the University of Washington released information about a new condom, a female condom.  Although female condoms have existed for quite some time, this female condom has the capabilities to better protect against unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases including HIV. What incredibly good news!

The Public Library of Science’s open-access journal, PLoS One, published the research. The new condom developed by the University of Washington team is an electrically spun cloth with nanometer-sized fibers that can dissolve to release drugs for contraception and prevention of HIV. Now, what is a nanometer, you ask? Well, it is one 25-millionth of an inch. Now, that’s small. And because a nanometer is so small, it can create a stretchy fiber that can be tightly woven to block sperm. Additionally, the fibers can be made to release chemical contraceptives as another form of protection against pregnancy. As if these aren’t remarkable enough, the fibers can also release antivirals to protect against sexually transmitted diseases, specifically HIV.

What is most impressive about this research and potential future development is that it puts control in women’s hands. Researchers created the condom as a female condom, one that can either work immediately or that can be formed to gradually dissolve and release the contraceptives and antivirals. This means that women would be able to protect themselves without having a potentially uncomfortable discussion with her partner. This safe sex method gives women the power to better protect themselves from two very real issues, one of which could become a very real danger.

I bet if we ask a handful of women, most will have a story about an awkward pre-sex moment when she asked her partner to wear a condom for whatever reason. This new electrically spun female condom gives control to women to protect against unwanted outcomes in far easier ways. She uses the condom; she does not have to rely on someone else for protection. Yes, this female condom is a step in the right direction.

We can no longer pretend that the only form of safe sex is abstinence. Obviously, abstinence is not sex at all. People are going to engage in sexual activity, so we need options to help us be more responsible with our sexual choices. This condom does not promote sexual activity; however, it allows for safer sex. I cannot express how incredibly awesome this is.

We love sex because it feels good and allows us to connect with our partner, not to mention that sex helps our health. According to WebMD, a salacious sex life can lower stress and blood pressure, boost immunity, burn calories, improve heart health and self-esteem, promote intimacy, and give better sleep. Sex is good. But we must be responsible about our sexual activity.

Until now, this has been accomplished mostly through the traditional latex condom. The researchers who are working on this new female condom have found a way to improve on the already good condom we all know now. This is what science should do; science should take something that’s pretty good and improve it, make it better. Science definitely should invent options for protection and health. The University of Washington team has done just that. To take from Neil Armstrong, this is one giant leap for empowering womankind!

Image Credit: Photos.com

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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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