The team from the University of Wollongong have been experimenting with hydrogel materials which can be made to feel and act like human tissue. The new range of biodegradable condoms will have a range of other benefits over traditional latex condoms, including self-lubrication and the ability to deliver small doses of drugs such as Viagra. They’ll also be capable of conducting electricity (if that’s your bag).

The aim of the project is to make safe sex more appealing by removing the stigma currently attached to condom use. Many lovers are adamant that traditional latex sheaths result in decreased pleasure – the common view being that sex when a chap is wearing a condom is about as much fun as eating a sweet with the wrapper on.

The New South Wales-based team received one of 52 grants on offer from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which called on scientists to overcome the fact that couples simply don’t like wrapping the rod. It offered initial funding of $100,000 per project for the design of a new, stigma-free condom that could “lead to substantial benefits for global health, both in terms of reducing the incidence of unplanned pregnancies and in prevention of infection with HIV or other STIs.”

Materials scientist Robert Gorkin, who heads up the Aussie team, said the new design could potentially encourage more couples to cover the stump before they hump.

He told Science Alert: “If you make them so pleasurable that people can’t wait to put them on, then more people will use them, and we can hopefully stop the spread of disease. It’s as simple as that.”