Happy Condom Week! Condoms are a vital tool in educating and informing people on the act of safe sex, focusing on avoiding unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. The history of condoms is a long one, and one that has evolved steadily over the years. Here you will learn the facts about condoms, as well as the different options available with this type of birth control. Worldwide, this is the cheapest and most accessible form of protection available.
Happy Condom Week! February reminds us all of the importance of practicing safe sex and doing so with one of the first known safe-sex devices, the condom. A condom is a thin sheath that covers the males’ penis as a contraceptive or preventative barrier against sexually transmitted infections. They can be made out of a multitude of materials ranging from latex, non-latex materials like polyurethane, polyisoprene or latex-free, lambskin, nitrile, and silicone. There are even condoms on the market that are completely vegan!
Condoms are used to help lower the chance of becoming pregnant with an unwanted pregnancy and helping to protect the genitalia from exposure to sexually transmitted disease. Condoms cannot completely protect you from either of these situations.
History of the Condom
The history of the condom is riddled with controversy, innovation, advances and many failures. Here are some of the main points about condoms since their creation.
- 1000 B.C. – This is around the time that the first known use of a condom was recorded. These first condoms were made from oiled silk paper, leather, linen sheaths, or a very thin, hollow horn from an animal.
- 200 A.D. – Cave paintings and hieroglyphics from this time depict condom use, which is the earliest visual evidence of use.
- 1500s- Gabrielle Fallopius, an Italian doctor who is also known for naming the fallopian tubes in a woman’s anatomy, suggested the linen sheath condoms be used to protect against syphilis, which during this time period was a deadly epidemic.
- 1640s- Certain researchers believed that farmers from Condom, France were using sheep guts as condoms, which may be where the use of lambskin first originated. This is also where the name “condom” came from.
- 1660s- Charles II was given oiled sheep intestines to use as a condom around this time by a physician named, Doctor Condom. He stated that this “condom” came from the Latin word condus, which simply means vessel.
- 1774- Giacomo Casanova wrote about his method of testing condoms in his memoir, detailed on how he would blow them up like balloons to test for strength, durability, holes and tears.
- 1855- Rubber is now used as a component of condoms. At this time, rubber condoms were considered washable and reusable, until they crumbled.
- 1861- The first condom made its news media appearance in an ad in the New York Times.
- 1912- Introducing latex made condoms cheaper and disposable. This is when single-use condoms were born. By the time of World War II, latex condoms are mass produced and given to troops all over the world.
- 1920s- After World War I, France bans condoms and other contraceptives in response to fears about falling birth rates.
- 1950s- The latex condom is improved; thinner, tighter, and lubricated. The reservoir tip is introduced, which is used to collect the ejaculated semen in the end, decreasing the risk of leakage or breakage and an unintentional pregnancy.
- 1980s- As HIV emerges as an epidemic, the embarrassment of advertising for and supporting condom use decreases. Sexually transmitted diseases now come to the forefront, and many news organizations openly begin supporting and advertising condom use in hopes to help decrease the rising STI rates.
- 2006- Condom sales reach nine billion dollars worldwide. Experts find that adding spermicidal gels to the condom lubricant can further prevent pregnancy, but this same spermicidal gel can increase the rate of contracting HIV; thusly warnings are issued about their use. As latex allergy rates rise, condoms begin being made from polyurethane.
- 2013- Bill and Melinda Gates donate $100,000 for the best condom design challenge, which sparks media attention again bringing condoms and safe sex to the forefront. This condom challenge worked on a condom that would “shrink wrap” to the penis and be one-hundred-times stronger than steel. This condom was a graphene-based model.
- 2017- British Condom introduced the i.Con, marketed as the first smart condom. This device, which is a ring that fits around the base of the condom, can provide the user with statistics on every aspect from their penis and body, like girth and size, along with calories burned. It can also report on sexual performance and makes a bold claim to detect sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis and chlamydia. Complete testing is not yet completed on this device as to how well it works or does not.
The facts are set: when it comes to using a condom, this action alone makes sex ten-thousand times safer than not using a condom (Planned Parenthood). Here are some of the top facts about condoms and their use:
- Condoms have been around since 1000 BC. You can see proof of early use in cave drawings and hieroglyphics across the globe.
- There is no medical reason why someone cannot use a condom. Even those who have a latex allergy can use latex-free condoms made of polyurethane or polyisoprene.
- Those people who use condoms feel their experiences are just as pleasurable and orgasmic as people who do not use any form of protection.
- One in four acts of penetrative vaginal intercourse is condom protected in the United States. It is one in three among single people.
- Condom availability in places of need around the world is increasing exponentially, with over twenty-five-million female condoms provided through international and nongovernmental agencies in 2015. Condom distribution increases over by over ten-million per year.
- Ninety-three percent of sexually active American women from the ages of fifteen to forty-four have had a male partner that used a male condom.
- Most all of the active American teens use a condom the first time they have sex. For males, this is eighty-two percent, females are at sixty-eight percent.
- The condom is one of the most easily accessible and inexpensive forms of birth control available. The cost of a condom can range from $.04 per unit to $5 per condom.
- Thirty-nine percent of American high school students are taught how to correctly use condoms and other birth control methods in their health education classes. There are also programs that teach abstinence in public schools, which are failing at fast rates.
Types of Condoms Available
Many people are under the impression that the standard male condom is the only condom available for use. Male condoms are designed to cover the tip and shaft of the penis by being placed on the tip, and gently rolled downwards. There are many styles of these condoms, including:
- Ribbed for Her Pleasure
- Textured or Studded for His Pleasure
- Magnums (for larger penises)
- Flavored Condoms
- Warming and Tingling Condoms
- French Ticklers
- Edible Condoms (Note- these are a novelty item only. These do not protect against pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases.)
- Lubricated and Non-lubricated; with or without spermicidal gel
Here are some facts about the female condom:
- This condom holds sperm inside of the condom and out of your vagina. Each condom has a ring on each end, one being specially designed to keep the condom in place, which covers the inside of the vagina or anus to keep sperm and pre-ejaculate out.
- With regular use, the female or internal condom is about seventy-five to eighty-two percent effective. When used and removed correctly with each sexual act, this condom is ninety-five percent effective.
- This condom can be inserted up to eight hours before you have sex. A new condom should be used upon each instance of intercourse. This is a safe device to use during menstruation or pregnancy.
- For some women, this condom can cause irritation inside of the vagina, the vulva, penis or anus. It is also reported to reduce the pleasurable sensations that happen during intercourse. This condom has also been reported to slip inside the vagina or anus during intercourse. Many people use these condoms with no instance of difficulty, but always check in with your doctor if you have concerns.
- This condom is made with nitrile, which is a synthetic rubber that is protective against diseases and perfect for those with any latex allergy or sensitivities. These are available at your local drugstore, supermarket, or sexual education center.
- No prescription is necessary for using or obtaining this product.
- This condom can be used with water-based and oil-based lubricants. If this condom breaks or tears during use, immediately seek out emergency contraception up to five days after the incident. If this happens, you may also want to be fully tested for sexually transmitted diseases.
- Using a female condom is a safe and simple method to use during sex.
- Unlike other birth controls, the female condom does not affect the bodies natural hormones or interact with any medications. This condom can also be used alongside other forms of birth control like the pill.
- It is not necessary to use a male and female condom at the same time, and in some cases, the materials can cause themselves to rip and tear.
Be sure you are giving all the props to condoms during this week of condom awareness! Use a condom on each of your sexual adventures not only to protect yourself but your partner as well!