Since the ancient Romans first strapped treated goat's bladders to their peckers, the venerable condom has been protecting people from pregnancy, itchy giblets and worse for hundreds of years. And while modern condoms are fairly reliable and allow much more sensitivity than the old multi-use sheep's intestine jobbies ever did, they're still far from foolproof. So we're always impressed when somebody steps up and tries to improve on a time-honoured design - in this case, Sensis has announced a new technology that gets condoms on faster, safer and cleaner - making them more effective, and crucially cutting down on the mood-killing awkwardness we're all familiar with.
Fellas, let's talk condoms - specifically, those few, awkward, fumbling moments when you put one on, which are probably the most critical moments in the whole operation.
The traditional 'franger' is not a particularly user-friendly device, especially given that it's generally used in low-lighting situations. Figuring out which side of a new condom is supposed to point up is more or less a guessing game, unless you're prepared to break what could be a rather fragile mood to give it a close inspection.
But here's the problem - if you put it on upside down, then realise after a few moments of confusing furtling that it doesn't want to roll down, and flip it over and plonk it on the right way, you've immediately exposed your partner to the risk of contracting any nasties you might be carrying.
Furthermore, the general method of putting one of these jiggers on in a rush (and condom application is hardly the sort of process most people tend to savour) is to make an 'O' shape with the thumb and forefingers on both hands, and make roughly the gesture you might make trying to climb a rope. Which means that any lube that the manufacturer has provided ends up all over your hands, and consequentially, wherever you put them next on your partner - instead of on the condom itself where it can perform its duty and prevent it from tearing during, er, vigorous use.
And while these flaws can lead to a certain discomfort and potential STD transmission, perhaps more to the point they contribute to a general potential for awkwardness in what can be a very sensitive moment. I'd wager most blokes would know what I'm talking about here - any undue stuffing about with a rubber can easily deflate the mood somewhat, and leave you trying to shoot pool with a piece of rope, as the late George Burns would say.
The fragile male ego being what it is, there's not a big jump from "sorry, that's never happened before" to "I hate condoms" - as hard as it might be to believe, there's plenty of people out there who refuse point blank to deal with the things, and while loss of sensitivity might account for some of that, I'd wager that a fair amount arrive at the conclusion after one too many awkward moments.
So we're pleased and curious to discover that Grove Medical has given the issue of quick, foolproof and minimally interruptive condom application some serious thought, and come up with a new design that addresses all the above issues.
The new Sensis condom features a pair of 'QuickStrips' - small plastic tabs that hang out from the rolled up condom. You hold these strips instead of the condom itself (they've got raised ridges to let you know which side's up in the dark), then put the condom in place and pull the tabs out, which unrolls the condom quickly and simply over your Johnson - so there's no risk of putting it on upside down, there's no lube all over somebody's hands, the condom is applied correctly with the right amount of space at the top every time, and you're ready to get stuck into what you came for (ahem) with minimal fussing about.
Of course, since they're new and kind of fascinating, there's the initial risk that such a nifty condom design might draw attention to itself and spark up what could be an intensely awkward conversation right when you want to get down to business - but you'd have to say it's a step in the right direction, particularly for first-timers.
If all this talk about condoms has got you fired up, you might want to check out a couple of other dinger stories we've looked at lately - notably, the German spray-on condom project and the much more low-tech and low-brow Condometric, the condom that measures how big your willy is.