April 2005

The History Of The Condom
by Dr. Ava Cadell

Fish and animal intestines, muscle tissue of slain warriors, rubber, linen, leather, tortoise shell, and animal horns, all these substances used to be the favored form of protection. These primitive condoms were dipped in chemicals or other solutions, cut, washed, tied and blown up, all to try and make the material soft enough and flexible enough to get on their penises. Sounds like a lot of work? Well, it was. The good news was these suckers were reusable. The bad news? They were also very expensive. So, only a small percentage of the population could afford them. Does that make you feel a little less ornery about having to wear your love glove and slap on some lube?

Believe it or not, the Egyptians may have discovered condoms accidentally over 3000 years ago. Egyptian men covered their penises with a linen sheath for decorative purposes, protection against diseases, or contraceptive purposes. We’ll never know because it wasn’t until more than another 1000 years later that there was evidence of condom use, as depicted in cave drawings at Cambarelles in France.

The first research on condoms as a means of protection against STDs was done in Italy during the 1500s by Gabrielle Fallopius, who claimed that his linen sheath condoms prevented over 1100 men from becoming infected with syphilis.

So how did the condom get its name? Some say it comes from the Latin word “condus,” meaning “receptacle”. However, there are those who attribute the invention to the fabled Dr. Condom who worked for the promiscuous King Charles II who reigned in England during the 1600s. Supposedly, Dr. Condom invented his licentious device in order to prevent King Chuck from contracting diseases from prostitutes or fathering illegitimate offspring.

For all you men who subscribe to the “skin to skin or I won’t put it in” approach to sex, you might be interested in knowing that the proverbial stud himself–Casanova–regularly wore condoms to protect against disease.

The first major technical revolution of the condom was in the 1840s when the vulcanization of rubber, or latex, was invented by Goodyear and Hancock. The result was cheaper and more readily available condoms–and the euphemism “rubbers”. The most significant technological advancement in condom manufacturing came during the 1930s when latex condoms began being massed produced. Latex is still the most common condom being manufactured today.

In the 1960s, when the birth control pill and IUD became readily available, the condom was practically rendered obsolete. Good girls just did it, and penicillin prevailed. It wasn’t until the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s that condom use regained its prominence.

In the last ten years, there has been more advancement in the production of condoms than in the previous 100 years combined. The most notable difference in the evolution of the condom is its function and purpose. Most condom makers are now manufacturing condoms with a variety of bumps, nubs, studs, and ribs to increase the sensation for women. For example, Trojan has taken a step towards equality by manufacturing a condom called Her Pleasure, with ridges on its base, emphasizing the woman’s satisfaction.

Condoms come in four basic sizes: snugger, which is up to 30% smaller than an average condom; regular; large; and extra-large, which is up to 30% larger than an average condom. How do you know where you fit it? Try taking an empty toilet paper roll and sliding it over your erect penis. If you fit in there with space to spare, you’re a snugger. If you fit in just right, you’re a regular guy. If it’s tight, you’re a large or extra-large fella.

Condom shape varies greatly, particularly among those condoms, such as the Pleasure Plus and Inspiral, designed to give a man more sensation. These condoms have a bulbous head for a looser fit that allows the nerve endings in the penis to remain more sensitive. Trojan has also just released a condom called Extended Pleasure with a desensitizer cream that enables men to maintain their erections longer in order to extend their arousal. Whether you want to come quicker or last longer, there’s something for everyone.

Condoms come in eight colors plus glow in the dark. Scents and flavors are also two completely different things. For example, LifeStyles flavored condoms are really just scented. Durex both colors and scents its condoms. Trustex has the largest variety of scented and flavored condoms. When you have sex with scented condoms, the aroma permeates the entire room, which can be fun for something different.

Condoms are available in three different materials. The most common is latex, but, much to the relief of those allergic to latex, polyurethane condoms became available in the 1990s. Durex Avanti and Trojan Supra make polyurethane condoms and, of course, there is the female condom, which became available in 1992. Lambskin condoms are made from the intestines of sheep. This is what condoms were made of 3000 years ago. Lambskin condoms are the most expensive condoms but still provide the greatest sensation because they are so thin. Other ultra-thin condoms include Crown, Paradise and Kimono.

So, we’ve come a long way from the condom having a negative stigma. It is now a symbol of respect to yourself and your partner. Women are learning how to put condoms on their men’s penises with their mouths, thanks to yours truly, so that they can make safer sex more fun. Condoms are readily available in convenience stores and on the Internet. There are sites providing information on condom etiquette. Gene Simmons has even pioneered celebrity condom endorsements with his Kiss Kondoms that are “tongue lubricated”. As Adam Glickman, President of says, “Condoms are like shoes, you have to choose the right style, size and fit to maximize your pleasure.”

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Hall, Lesley A. . “Condom”. Http: // 30 August 2002.
Interview with Adam Glickman, 10 September 2002.
Knowles, Jon. “The History of the Condom”. Http:// 30 August 2002.
Louk, Jess. “Condom History 101”. opn.louk.2-18.html. 30 August 2002.
“The Female Condom”. 9 September 2002.