While conducting research for another article, I came across a fascinating little bit on wikipedia.org that highlighted the history of the condom. I was enlightened and I hope you will be as well. To my surprise, the condom, in some form or fashion, has been around since 1000 BC. It was originally used by the Egyptians as a way of preventing disease. The first condom was made of linen. (Very comfy I’m sure)
In Europe, cave drawings dated back to 100-200 AD, show evidence of condom use there around that era. Since Egyptian influence is seen in Roman art and dress of the era, it can only be assumed that the concept of condoms was likewise borrowed from them. By the 1500’s the syphilis epidemic encouraged the rebirth of the condom. During this period is the “first published account.” During this time a reduced occurrence of pregnancies was noted among avid condom users. This period also brought on the first use of spermicide. The customary linen condom was dipped into a chemical and let to dry before use.
In the 1700s, it has been suggested that Dr. Condom introduced the condom to King Charles II as a means of preventing illegitimate children from being born. Likewise, the acclaimed lover, Casanova is said to have worn them as well. It is around this time that the predecessor of the modern-day condom was introduced. Linen had been replaced with animal intestines (which, by the way, are still in production today but are far less effective than latex condoms because the sheath is permeable to diseases and viruses.) Here the problems with condoms begin. The men of the age sited the new condoms as “an armor against pleasure, and a cobweb against infection.”
By the 1800’s technological advances in vulcanized rubber soon streamlined condom production and mass production of the condom was now possible. Until 1919 condom manufacturers produced condoms by hand-dipping them in rubber cement. But these condoms were proved to be ineffective as they aged quickly and lost their protective properties. In 1919 natural latex rubber was introduced into the scene of condom manufacturing. The new condoms took longer to age, were thinner than the traditional condom and were odorless. By the 1930’s condoms manufacturers were pumping out an incredible 1.5 million condoms a day.
1957 brought about the birth of the lubricated condom. With the discovery of AIDS/HIV condom use in other countries skyrocketed. Additionally, the AIDS scare brought about prolific condom use in the United States. One could find them in bars, rest stop bathrooms, grocery stores, etc.
For thousands of year men have been solely responsible for the care taken to prevent pregnancy and disease. In the 1960’s women began taking on a bit of that role as birth control was introduced. In 1992 a female condom was developed and effectively tested in Europe. Recently, the female condom was approved by the FDA here in the United States and is widely available.
The innovative approach in condom development has taken the responsibility out of the hands of the man and allowed women a means of protecting themselves from disease as well as pregnancy. Several new ideas have surfaced lately in the world of condoms. At this time the invisible condom is being tested in Africa (and other areas of the world) as is the spray-on condom. It will still be several years before either of these options is available in the United States, but when they are they will bring about a new, revolutionary way of protecting one’s self.