History of Condoms

History of condoms:

Condoms have been around for 400 years; however, historians believe they were used as far back as 3,000 years ago.

Early Civilization: It is not known whether or not condoms were used, however paintings suggest it they were used for sex or rituals. As early as the first century AD, a cave painting in France showed the use of condoms and Ancient Chinese and Japanese paintings show the use of gland condoms. Gland condoms were used to cover the head of the penis and made of oiled silk in China and tortoise shell or animal horn in Japan.

16th Century: Italian Gabriele Falloppio, was the first to write a treatise explicitly for the use of condoms during a syphilis outbreak. He wrote that his studies showed the use of linen sheath, dipped in chemicals and then dried, during intercourse prevented the spread of syphilis. Later he discovered that they also prevented pregnancy.  During the Renaissance Period, condoms started to be made out of animal intestine and bladder.

19th Century: condoms were viewed by religions as immoral because they were considered to promote promiscuity and the prevention of pregnancy. Despite religious misgivings, the condom grew in popularity around the industrialized world. They were typically only used by middle and upper class people due to cost and lack of sexual education.

In 1839 Charles Goodyear invented the rubber condom, and it was as thick as a bicycle tire. The process to make one condom was lengthy and was done by semi-skilled laborers.

Condoms met an uphill battle against the church and the government in America.  In 1873 the American congress passed the Comstock Act, prohibiting the use and dissemination of contraceptives. Along with the new law, condoms were being proven ineffective due to breaking or by falling off. Pro-Comstock groups also viewed sexually transmitted diseases as punishment for sexual behavior and soon “sexual education” began in schools, mostly preaching abstinence to students.

20th Century to present: Polish inventor Julius Fromm created a new way to make condoms in 1912 by dipping glass molds into rubber made liquid by gasoline and benzene, making them much thinner and more comfortable. By 1920, latex rubber was invented, suspended in water, and proved to be a better material due to its elasticity, its strength and its five-year shelve life, rather than three months. It was also far safer to manufacture. By the 1930’s latex condoms were very popular due to ease of manufacturing and cheaper cost, leaving the lambskin condom to become a niche market among catering to the upper class.

The militaries of both the US and Britain did not pass out condoms during WWI and the US alone saw a 70% STD rate among soldiers during the war. By WWII, those governments wised up and the STD rate had declined dramatically.  With clever advertising and new packaging, worldwide condom sales doubled in the 1920’s, despite the church and other watchdog groups views.

Condom sales continued to grow and became the next best form of birth control to abstinence. From 1945 to 1955, 45% of Americans said they used condoms as a form of birth control while 60% of Brits reported condom use from 1950 to 1960. Condoms took a back seat to the birth control pill when it debuted in the 1960’s but not by much. It wasn’t until the 1980’s, when it was discovered that HIV was transmitted sexually, that condoms made a comeback.

Condoms sales continued to increase until 1994 when ads about HIV started to taper off. By then condom manufacturers started to make condom ads humorous rather than scary to increase sales. Condoms were sold at more locations including grocery and convenient stores and offered in a wider variety, including all sorts of sizes, color, and even flavors.

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