Along with many issues surrounding sex, condoms are still a bit of a taboo in polite society. But as well as preventing pregnancy, condoms help prevent the transmission of most sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
However, despite the dangers of unprotected sex, statistics from STD tests show that condoms are not used as often as they could be.
Perhaps if we just got to know them a little better, we’d feel more comfortable about using them. With that in mind, here are 10 of the most interesting things about condoms.
1 – Condoms were used by ancient civilisations
Although the subject is disputed amongst archaeologists and historians, some experts claim that condoms appeared in cave paintings going back 15,000 years. The oldest known representation of a condom in use is in a painting in the Grotte des Combarrelles cave in France. Also, societies in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome preferred small families and are known to have practiced a variety of birth control methods.
2 – First known use against STDs
In medieval times there probably weren’t any reliable STD tests, nevertheless, most people would have known if they had one! It was therefore in 16th century Italy that Gabriele Falloppio wrote the first-known published description of condom use for STD prevention. He recommended soaking cloth sheaths in a chemical solution and allowing them to dry prior to use. Falloppio claimed to have performed an experimental trial of the linen sheath on 1100 men. The experiment supposedly indicated protection against syphilis.
3 – Oldest found condoms
The oldest condoms found (rather than just pictures or descriptions) are from 1640, discovered in Dudley Castle in England. They were made of animal intestine, and it is believed they were used for STD prevention.
4 – The Japanese made theirs out of tortoise shells
In 19th century Japan, both leather condoms and condoms made of tortoise shells or horns were available. Similar devices made from oiled silk paper have also been described in China.
5 – Dr Condom
The alleged invention of the condom by ‘Dr. Condom’ or the ‘Earl of Condom’ is believed to be false. It has also been hypothesized that a British army officer named Cundum popularized the device between 1680 and 1817. However, the true origin of the word is unknown.
6 – Time-consuming recipes
Condoms weren’t always so easily available. An 1824 text offers a recipe with twelve very time-consuming steps involved in making condoms from sheep’s ‘intestina caeca.’ After that much effort, it is hardly surprising that early condoms were considered reusable.
7 – Condoms used to be available only by prescription
In the US, there was a time that condoms were available only by prescription. Doctors would prescribe them to men so that husbands could protect themselves against getting STDs from prostitutes. However, they wouldn’t prescribe them to women so they could prevent themselves from getting pregnant or for any other reason.
8 – Condoms have been sold in vending machines since 1928
The vending machine condom celebrates its 80th anniversary in 2008, courtesy of the company who manufactured the first brand-name condom, Germany-based, Fromm’s. Their product, Fromm’s Act, not only appeared in vending machines first – they also, somewhat bizarrely, had Mickey Mouse as their pitchman.
9 – Invisible condoms
Clinical trials on the ‘invisible’ condom, in fact a gel that hardens with increased temperatures, have been carried out by Quebec’s Laval University. It is one of a number of products being developed which falls into the category of a female condom, some of which have received government approval. The Invisible Condom, however, is still awaiting approval.
10 – Spray-on condoms
German scientist Jan Vinzenz Krause of the Institute for Condom Consultation in Germany recently developed a spray-on condom that is currently in the stages of test marketing. Krause says that one of the advantages to his spray-on condom, which is reported to dry in about 5 seconds, is that it is perfectly formed to each penis.
|Tim Leach is the Marketing Manager of American Lab Testing, providers of STD tests.|
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