The first references to condoms are dated to about the year 3000 before Christ. There is a legend about Minos the King of Crete and his wife Pasiphae. The king was full of love and used to change his lovers endlessly. Having learned this, the queen put a curse on her husband. Since then at each time of intimacy with a new lady the king ejaculated a stream of poisonous snakes and scorpions that bit the poor girl to death. The rumors of the king’s strange peculiarities were rapidly spread all around, and a number of girls who want to sleep with him have certainly gone down drastically. The creative king decided to try sex with a goat’s bladder put inside the girl’s vagina before. The experiment proved to be successful, the girl has survived, and the jealous wife remained unaware. But this is just a legend.
The condom epoch was followed by the Egyptians. Images were found by historians showing the Egyptian men with respective items put on their penises. But these items are supposed to be merely decorations. The first condom in Egypt is considered to be made of leather and belong to Pharaoh Tutankhamen. This exhibit is now kept in the Cairo museum.
Ancient Romans used condoms as well. They were made of resin — the only then flexible substance. Then the item was treated with a special compound to prevent resin from sticking to male and female genitals. Besides, the ancient Romans were the pioneers of condom mass production. Before long-time travels the Roman legionaries were given dried sheep’s bowels.
The history of condom finds its continuation in medieval times. The Columbus’s expedition has brought rubber and syphilis from America. Both contributed to a new condom epoch development.
By the year 1500 the syphilis epidemic had spread throughout the whole Europe and Russia, and by 1512 it had reached Japan. A condom was required not as a contraceptive, but as a means of protection against dangerous infection. In 1564 the Italian doctor Gabriele Falloppio invented a linen sheath wrapped around the penis, which was soaked with medicines and inorganic salts. Whether this sheath could really protect from diseases is unknown, but it served as an impulse for further inventions.
In 1712 in Utrecht a conference dedicated to the conclusion of treaty to end the war for Spanish heritage was held. The officials and diplomats were surrounded by lovely ladies, and, therefore, an idea was brought about to produce intimate hygiene items from films and membranes of animal origin. They were released for sale and became a symbol of sin. They found their key application in brothels. One of the commercials dedicated to hygienic and protective features of this item utilized a term “condom”.
However in Venice condoms (small items of white leather with strings) were prohibited for fear that dishonest men will use them to protect girls from pregnancy and force them to prostitution. But very few men used condoms at that time, as they secured poor protection and reduced pleasure sharply. In addition, they were too expensive and difficult to produce.
Origin of the term “condom”
There are several versions of the word “condom” origin. According to the first one it comes from Latin word “condus” which means “container”, according to the second one it comes from the last name of doctor Condom who was a court doctor of Charles II the King of England. The King ordered to his doctor to invent protection against syphilis, and the doctor proposed to use caps made of oil lubricated sheep’s bowels. Soon, the invention began to be used by the whole aristocracy. But as the item was used several times, the rate of contraction was still growing, though the number of illegitimate births has dropped.
There is a third version of the word “condom” origin. The word is considered to be of French origin. There is even a city in France named “Condom”. By the way, the Condom people are planning to open a museum of contraceptives in the city.
Rubber vulcanization discovered in 1840 made a revolution in the condom history. Condoms became faster and cheaper to produce which made it possible to make them a mass-consumption product.
The first rubber condom was made in 1885. Certainly, it had nothing to do with a modern condom. It had longitudinal seams. Soon, the production process advanced to using latex, which made condoms more secure. But still it was not used as a protection from venereal diseases, as this invention was considered to be sinful and never mentioned in connection therewith.
In the 1920s condoms regained their popularity and became a mass-production item. But in the 1960s their popularity declined sharply due to invention of contraceptive pills, while diseases were considered to be curable by antibiotics.
In the Soviet Union condoms were manufactured at the Bakovski Rubber Plant. Manufacturing was controlled by the Lavrentiy Beria. As a gas mask was named “item number one” at the plant, condoms were named “item number two”.
Since mid 1980s and until now the popularity of condoms has grown again due to expansion of AIDS and other venereal diseases. Meanwhile, the item has undergone a considerable change: the condom length reaches 18 cm, lubrication was introduced, spermicide, flavoured, ribbed, latex and polyurethane condoms emerged, as well as many other innovations. In the course of manufacturing they undergo very strong tests. When used correctly modern condoms secure high degree of protection against unwanted pregnancy and venereal diseases.