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April 13, 2024

Rubber, Love Glove, Party Hat, whatever you want to call it, condoms are invaluable when it comes to preventing unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, their importance absolutely cannot be overstated. But how did we get to the classicprophylactic we know and love?


According to some, King Minos of Crete used the bladder of a goat* similar to a condom in 3000 B.C.E to protect his wife from his semen which apparently contained serpents and scorpions. I think considering the other thing Minos was famous for was his role in the whole Minotaur thing we can take this theory with a pretty large grain of salt and move on to slightly more believable things. 


Probably the most famous archaeological discovery ever is the Tomb of Tutankhamun found in 1922. After his death in 1324 B.C.E the young Pharaoh was buried with an impressive amount of amazing treasures and his trusty reusable linen condom. That's right, amongst piles of gold and precious artefacts in the Egyptian Museum lies item 745, a linen willy-wrapper that was secured around the waist and lubed with olive oil. DNA residue has also confirmed that it was used by the Pharaoh probably more in an effort to protect against diseases rather than unwanted pregnancy.**

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In Japan people used hard hat style condoms called Kabuta-Gata. These were usually made of tortoiseshell or leather and only covered the glans. There were also longer versions that I think are more closely related to an extender sleeve than a condom, which was also made of tortoise shell. These were used as typical condoms as well as assistance for a case of erectile dysfunction. 

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The Industrial Revolution introduced us to something closer to the modern condom with the development of rubber vulcanization, which made the material more malleable and durable. By the 1860’s made to fit reusable rubber condoms were reasonably accessible for the masses, while there were still animal skin versions which were more comfortable, these would fall out of fashion by the end of the century.  

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Forever in the habit of restricting birth control, the American Congress passed the Cornstock Laws in 1873 which prohibited condoms and other contraceptives from being sold by the post or across state lines. This severely impacted their accessibility which sucked since venereal diseases were incredibly prevalent at the time. During World War I the German Army received condoms along with their other supplies. The British and Americans did not. Completely unrelated to that, it was found that the American army in particular had a huge problem with gonorrhoea and syphilis. Go figure.


In the 1920’s we saw the invention of the latex condoms we know and love today, which are pretty much the standard for anyone without a latex allergy. They come in any size, colour, texture or even flavour you could ever want. 


“But baaaabbee it just feels so much better without one, I can’t feel anything when we use one” - someone, somewhere 


If you ever hear anything vaguely similar to that, or you yourself are tempted to say it, I hope you’ll be reminded of this blog and you will thank your lucky stars for the luxury of modern condoms, it could always be worse, you could have to use a goat bladder or a tortoise shell hardhat. 


Wrap it before you tap it kids x

Funtasia Sexpert andCondom Connoisseur 

Verin Sampson 



*Once again goats getting the short end of the stick in the story of humanity’s  sexual escapades - check out the History of the Cock Ring if you don’t know what I’m talking about.


** I’m guessing this glorified handkerchief would have been about as effective as a colander at preventing pregnancy, plus as a royal Tut probably would have been aiming for kids. 



Sources:

Khan, F.et al. (2013) ‘The story of the condom’,Indian Journal of Urology, 29(1), p. 12. 

Lieberman , H. (2017)A short history of the condom,JSTOR DAILY. Available at:https://daily.jstor.org/short-history-of-the-condom/  

Smith L.The History of Contraception in Briggs, P. (2013)Contraception a casebook from menarche to menopause. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p.18 

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