Condoms are excellent prevention methods for surprise pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. While they have existed for many thousands of years they have only grown in use over the last hundred years. Now that they have grown in popularity, do you know their history? It’s quite interesting. This article will discuss the fascinating creation of condoms and how they came to be what they are today.
Let’s start way back in 11,000 B.C. when the first condom was depicted, or so the scientists believe.
In France, scientists believe there were images of condoms being used in two caves called Grotte des Combarrelles. Many scientists have studied these paintings and come to the conclusion that this was when condoms first came into use.
Now that the first cave paintings have been discussed, let’s jump all the way to 1,000 B.C. where animal parts were widely used to protect the penis from various insects and diseases.
Historians studied widely and believed that those in ancient Egypt used a linen sheath to keep insects and diseases away from the penis. Chinese men used silk paper that was covered in oil and Japanese men protected their prized tool in tortoiseshell and leather sheaths. Finally, though not comprehensive, the Romans used goats’ bladders to protect their penises. How do you think that worked, exactly?
In the 1400s, especially in Japan and China, condoms did not cover the entire shaft.
They were called Glans condoms and only shielded the penis’ head. Their use was mainly focused on preventing surprise pregnancies, but they were also used to shield against infections.
Silk and lamb intestines were harvested to created condoms in ancient China, while ancient Japan used the horns of animals and tortoise shells.
The 1500s ushered in the official writings of the condom, propelling their benefits to the public.
Gabrielle Fallopius, who was an Italian inventor, created the first paper on the detrimental effects of syphilis. He also created a linen sheath that was immersed in chemicals which would decrease the transmission of syphilis. After his recommendation drew attention to the need for condoms, manufacturers would dry the condoms and package them with a ribbon attached to the bottom section. This ribbon would be tied around the shaft to keep the condom in place during sexual relations.
To show the effectiveness of his condom, Fallopius conducted a study that included 1,100 people. His study proved that the condom worked effectively to prevent the transmission of syphilis and could, potentially, work to prevent the spread of other infections.
While Fallopius had already proved the condom benefited its users, there was still a lot of doubt and controversy about whether people should or should not use the condom. The religious and scientific communities could not decide, so there was much debate. Leonardus Lessius, a Catholic theologian, said that condoms were immoral. In the very early years of the 17th century, 1605 to be exact, he became the first member of the clergy to advise against condoms.
While this may have dissuaded some people, condom use began to gain traction and these tools became available widely. Due to how expensive they were, many people reused them, but using linen condoms was very unsanitary and could increase their chances of transmitting infections. At the time, the people didn’t know this, so continued on as they did.
In 1666, the English Birth Rate commission published a paper calling the tools “condons” for the first time. This paper not only christened the name of these tools but stated to the public that they were responsible for the decline in births. Later, “condons” would turn into “condoms” and only grow in usage.
While many still though condoms were immoral, including many physicians, they grew in use. These were either made from the intestines or bladder soaked in sulfur or lye or linen immersed in other chemicals. After some time, condoms became available in public places and were sold in markets and pubs.
By this time, the public’s view of condoms was becoming more positive, though there were still many others that thought poorly of them. Those who did not believe in condoms included some members of the UK’s parliament, as they believed condoms didn’t provide enough protection against syphilis and may entice people to have irresponsible sex.
This also was the time where condoms were affordable to the working class and not just the upper class, so they had a much larger market.
The biggest shift in the history of condoms would happen during this time period. Charles Goodyear created rubber vulcanization in 1839, though the first condom made of rubber did not happen until 1855. After this occurred, rubber companies all over were jumping on this product and mass-producing rubber condoms.
As these condoms were reusable, unlike the skin condoms, they were also more affordable. Even with these features, the majority of people still preferred the ones made of skin as they cost less. The biggest issue with rubber condoms was that they had to be specially made for each man and they were only designed to cover the head of the penis, so could easily slip off.
Recognizing these weaknesses, manufacturers realized that condoms did not have to be specially created for each man, but could be fit to a variety of men within a certain size of penis. This only heightened the desire for condoms.
By the end of this time, the term “rubbers” grew in popularity and, as you know, it is still used to this day.
During World War 1, condoms began being given to soldiers to lower their chance of contracting or spreading infections. Before this, most condoms were created and distributed from Germany to the rest of Europe.
As World War 1 progressed, Julius Fromm, a chemist, created an entirely new texture for condoms which involved glass molds and rubber. He soaked the mold in the raw rubber solution and created a texture on the condom. Even today, Fromm’s Act, is a popular brand of condoms in Germany.
The late 20s created a revolution in the world of condoms when latex was invented and soon after, the latex condom was invented by the Young’s Rubber Company. These were cheap and mass-produced. Also, the still well-known company, Durex, created the first website in order to sell condoms.
The idea for a female condom was conceived, though a female condom wasn’t actually created until the 1980s.
There are a variety of condoms of different shapes, textures, flavors, and sizes. They are widely used and make sexual encounters much safer. When used correctly and consistently, they have a 98% protection rate. Grab your condoms and have fun.