Advances in Safer Sex: Anti-HIV Gel May Increase Pleasure. Kind of.
For the last few years, researchers have been working to develop microbicide gels that would protect against sexually transmitted infections. Something like a lubricant that also protects the user would be a big advance in sexual health.
Two years ago, testing of one such product began in South Africa and highly consistent use among women led to a 59% decrease of HIV infection. This is certainly good news, although I’d also like to know how it fares with other STIs. I’d also want to know about its effectiveness for anal use.
But leaving that aside, the women using it said that they enjoyed the way that the gel increased their sexual pleasure. Given that most of the feedback in the study came from women in menopause, this might simply be the result of using a lubricant, rather than this particular product. There’s a strong tradition of “dry sex” in sub-Saharan Africa, since it’s thought to be more pleasurable for male partners, even though it can cause pain and discomfort for both partners. So this result might not be as relevant for women who are familiar with using lubricants as it sounds at first. It’ll take some testing among other populations to see how it fares as a lubre.
Nevertheless, anything that increases pleasure AND decreases risk is a good thing, in my book. And if it encourages people to use lubricants, that’s even better.