Condoms are a ubiquitous part of life, in modern times, and they are a pretty amazing form of birth control. They’ve allowed people to take control of their lives by planning their pregnancies and stay healthier by avoiding STIs. The idea of condoms is at least 400 years old and a simple understanding of Condom History can be quite useful.
The first known condom was used around the year 1642, and it was found in what was the “cesspit” of Dudley Castle. The cesspit is just a word for where all the waste was thrown. The first condoms were made of animal membranes, usually the intestines. No one knows exactly when they started using these devices, because they do tend to disintegrate rapidly once tossed. Some speculate it is as early as the Ancient Egyptian days, but others think it was more like around the 1500s in Europe, and a bit earlier in Asian countries like China and Japan.
The first outbreak of what we know is now syphilis started in France in the 1400s, and doctors raced, with their limited medical knowledge, to find a way to prevent the spread. The fix they came up with was linen clothes soaked in certain chemicals, dried and then tied around the head of the penis with a ribbon during sex. They tested it and none of the subjects contracted the disease. Thus, the idea of the condom as we know it was born. Throughout the Renaissance period, these linen condoms and animal membrane ones were used, though, we now know that animal skins do not protect against STIs, only pregnancy.
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This continued until the invention of rubber in the 1800s. Early rubber condoms were reusable and would be medically molded to each man’s penis. In 1920, latex was invented and so was the condom as we know and love it today. They were much better than rubber condoms because there are many flammable substances involved in making rubber products, whereas latex uses only water. At this point in history, everyone knew what we know today: a condom makes sex even better.
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