History of condoms

History of condoms

People have been having sex since the beginning of time. 

Therefore, we can assume, people have been hoping to avoid disease and unplanned reproduction since the beginning of time as well. 

The history of condoms is a rather interesting and curious subject, and the folklore around condom’s inception differs by culture and geography. 

And let me tell you, some of the original forms of condoms are not nearly as desirable as our breadth of options now. 

Humans started using condoms in 3000 BC. Some people say the first condom was used by King Minos of Crete and his wife Pasiphae. Rumor had it that King Minos’s semen contained “scorpions and serpents” that could kill whoever he had sexual relations with, so Pasiphae used a goat bladder to protect her vagina. How scrappy. 

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Animal bladders were used by the Ancient Romans as well, not to prevent pregnancy but as an attempt to prevent venereal disease. Around 1000 BC, the Egyptians were also focused on preventing disease. They used and dyed condom-like glan caps to protect against Schistosomiasis, also known as parasitic worms. The condoms were dyed different colors based on the person's social status and distinguished hierarchy, which is one way to avoid catfishing. They are the first documented group to use sheaths. 

From 1700 AD, animal intestines were used as the main material for condoms, and therefore, they were manufactured by butchers who were the most informed about animal parts - specifically high strength intestines and bladders. These condoms were secured with a ribbon at the base of a penis and were reusable. People were instructed to wash them with warm milk after use as a way to prevent syphilis. Because condoms were associated with prostitution houses, they were stigmatized and not commonly used. The famous womanizer Giacom Cassanova publicly complained about these types of condoms, but apparently would blow condoms up and use them to entertain women and prove their efficacy. 

But how did condoms get their modern name

It is rumored that condoms are named after a man - Doctor Condom. The tale goes that Dr. Condom was commissioned by King Charges II in the 17th century to find a tool to prevent soldiers and sailors from venereal disease. And, to find a cure to preventing any more illegitimate children for Charles II. 

While there is no real record of Dr. Condom's life, the story continues to speculate that Dr. Condom changed his name out of embarrassment. 

Okay, so Trojans weren’t made by the Romans exactly - when did the modern day condom come into existence? 

Well, we didn’t jump straight from intestines to latex. In between, in the mid 1800’s rubber was the material of choice. The rubber condom was created by Charles Goodyear, yes the Goodyear of car tires, which are - you guessed it - made of rubber. These condoms began only as covering the glans of the penis, which Europeans referred to as “American tips.” By 1869, rubber condoms extended to cover the entire penis but had an uncomfortable seam down the middle. 

Technological innovations for condoms superseded the public’s perception. In 1873 the Cornstock laws were passed. These laws prohibited selling condoms via the mail and publicly advertising contraception, despite the growing issue of venereal diseases. During World War I, German soldiers were given condoms, but American and British soldiers were not. This resulted in a large number of American soldiers contracting syphilis and gonorrhea. 

The modern day condom, latex condoms, was invented in the 1920s. Latex made condoms stronger and stretchier than rubber condoms. They can be produced quicker and lubricated. Condoms became more popular after World War II, and especially after the discovery of HIV/AIDS in the 1980s. 

Now, we have a wide variety of condoms - with various textures and flavors - to meet our sexual and medical needs. So the next time someone resists using a condom, remind them of how lucky we are to explore our sexuality in a time that doesn’t require any animal intestines. 

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