History and Evolution of Condom

Table of Content

            Condom is a thin sheath that is usually worn by males to prevent unwanted pregnancy. These condoms go a long way back in history. Before these condoms are made of animal intestines and rubber. Nowadays, technology has helped in creating various types of condoms with different shape, size, length, color and flavour. The main use of condom is to protect the user from sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), an estimated 10.4 billion male condoms is used all over the world in 2005. These condoms are not all used for family planning. Only 4.4 Billion is used for family planning and 6.0 Billion is used for HIV prevention. As shown, many people are cautious against STDs. The history, evolution and how the condom is made would be discussed in the next paragraphs that would follow.

I.                   History of Condoms

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            Condom had been used ever since the time of the ancient Egyptians in 1000BC. The ancient Egyptians have been using a linen sheath that is used for protection against sexually transmitted disease. (www.avert.org, 2008). Evidence was found on the use of condom in history. From 100-200 AD, it has been proven that the Europeans have also been using condoms. This is evident from the scenes in the cave paintings seen at Combarelles in France.

            In the 1500s, there has been a syphilis epidemic that had spread across Europe. This had put to rise the first published account of the condom. In response to the epidemic that had spread, Gabrielle Fallopius had claimed to have invented a sheath of linen that would be protect the men against syphilis. Late in the 1500s, improvements on the condom were made. The linen cloth sheaths were at times soaked in a chemical solution to dry prior to use. As such, this was considered as the first spermicide on a condom. A spermicide is a chemical that inactivates or kill sperm to prevent pregnancy. (www.avert.org)

            In the 1600s, the condom had been named as such because of the doctor of King Charles II. According to historical accounts, the physician of Charles II of England was Dr. Condom or Quondam. He had suggested and made sheaths made out of animal gut. This is the first explanation as to why condom was named. Another explanation is that the word condom came from the Latin word Condus which means receptacle. In the 1700s, the first published use of the word condum was in a 1706 poem. Furthermore, the famous and controversial lover Casanova had use the condom as a tool for birth control and infection (avert.org, 2008). Casanova had used pieces of sheep intestine to protect himself from venereal disease. During this time the first condom manufacturer was Schmid Laboratories. The condoms that had been made out of animal intestines had become available to the public. However, condoms back then were very expensive. They are reused because it is very expensive. During these times, the condoms were seen as “an armour against pleasure, and a cobweb against infection”. Trade in handmade condoms had spread throughout London, shops had produced handbills and started to advertise condoms in the second half of the 1700s.

            In the 1800s, the use of condoms had been affected by the technological, economic and social development in Europe and the United States. In 1843, condom manufacturing had been revolutionized because of the discovery of rubber vulcanization. This was discovered by Goodyear and Hancock. The discovery had led to a mass production of rubber goods quickly and cheaply, this includes the condom. The process used to produce condom is called vulcanization. Vulcanization turns the rubber into a strong elastic material. The rubber is treated with sulphur and it is subjected to intense heat. In the year 1861, the first ads for condoms was published in an American Newspaper. The New York Times printed an ad and had called the Condom s “Dr. Power’s French Preventatives”. People had tried to curb the publicity and mass production of the condom. This had been done through the Comstock Law which was named after Anthony Comstock. The Law made illegal the advertisement of birth control and allows the postal service to confiscate the condoms sold through mail. (madehow.com, 2008). In 1883, Julis Schmid, a former sausage-skin maker had acquired a business that manufactures bottle seals from membranes. Schmid had used experience with sausage casings and capping skins to make prophylactic sheaths that had been made from lamb cecum. Technology had made progress that allows thinner, more durable and cheaper condoms to become available in the market. (madehow.com)

            In the 1900s, most condoms were manufactured through hand dipping from the rubber cement. These condoms aged quick and the quality produced is not good. Improvement was made by Frederick Killian. He had started the hand-dipping of condoms using natural rubber latex in Ohio. The condoms that had been developed show more advantage in ageing, thinner and is odorless. The new typed of condom had produced a great expansion of sales.  (condomdepot.com). In the mid 1930s, there had been fifteen largest makers in the United States. 1.5 million condoms a day was produced by these manufacturers. Then first lubricated condom was made in the United Kingdom by Durex in 1957. The use of condom as a contraceptive device declined when the pol coil and sterilization became popular in the 1960s. However, its used had increased again in many countries because of the identification of the HIV/AIDS in the 80s. Condoms had become available almost everywhere. The female condom had ben made available in Europe in 1992 and it had been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 1993. The world’s first polyurethane condom
for men had been launched in the United States and recently introduction of coloured and flavoured condoms had been done in the 1990s.

            The first condom was manufactured by Julius Schmid which were made from the cecum of lambs. As of 1990, condoms that were made from lamb cecum amounts for about 5.5% of the market and because it is more expensive than the rubber condom, the lamb cecum contributes 20% of the retail sales of the condom industry. Lamb cecum condoms are washed, salted and all fats are removed from it. The skins are then shipped to the finishing plants. New Zealand is considered as the primary source and the initial processing center for the skin condoms.

II.                Manufacturing and Raw Materials used for Condom

            At present, latex condoms account for most of the market of the condom. Rubber latex is a natural material and it varies in strength and elasticity. Manufacturers add chemicals to stabilize and standardize the composition of the latex. Manufacturers at times add talc, lubricants and spermicides to the condoms before they are packed. There are seven steps to manufacture the latex condom. First step is to collect the raw materials that would be used to produce the condom. Rubber latex is from a milky fluid produced by plants in the tropics area. Latex is an emulsion of tiny rubber particles in water. Ingredients are added to the latex collected. These ingredients must attach to the rubber particles of the materials which is the second step of rubber latex production. Chemical addictives are mixed to form a paste. The paste is unified with the liquid latex in the process. This is called compounding. Third step is the curing process. The latex and chemical compounds are unloaded in the drums for storage. The compounds stored remains for approximately seven days. During this period, vulcanization strengthens the bonds of the rubber. The time it was stored allows air that has been trapped in the mixture to escape. Fourth step is dipping. The compound is added to the dipping or condom forming machine. The dipping machine can be described as a long, hooded machine. It is approximately 100 ft in length. There are thick tempered glass rods in a closed belt between two circular gears. The belt pulls the rods which are also known as mandrels and dips these rods into the late compound. Mandrels rotate to spread the latex evenly. Several coats are required to build the condom to its required thickness. The latex is air dried after each dip. After the final dipping and drying, the condoms automatically roll off the rods and the machine shapes and trims the ring of latex at the base. Next step is the tumbling of the condoms. It is put in a tumbling machine and is coated with talc and another similar powder to prevent the rubber from sticking. After curing, the condoms are then sampled by batch and are tested. This is the next step in the condom manufacturing which is called testing. The first test conducted is the inflation test. The condom is filled with air until it bursts. Standards for condoms are that it must stretch beyond 1.5 cubic feet before bursting. This is the most important test because the elasticity of the condom would keep the condom from tearing during intercourse. The next test done is the water-leakage test. The condom is filled with 300mL  of water and is inspected for holes by rolling in a blotter paper. Condoms are tested electronically. This involves the mounting of each condom on a charged stainless steel mandrel. If pin holes are present, a circuit will be established with the mandrel ad the machine will automatically reject the condom. The condoms that had passed test are rolled by a machine. The rolling of the condom is done so that it would be easy to use and packed. Lubricants and spermicides are applied by a metering pump before it is wrapped and added in the foiling process. (madehow.com, 2008).

Quality control for manufacturers is guaranteed by the government. The condoms are classified as Class II Medical Device. The Medical Device Amendments from the FDA states that it is required to inspect each condom manufacturing plant once in two years.Its electrical and mechanical equipment must be maintained.  The United States have a standard specifications which were developed by condom manufacturers and adopted by the FDA. The Condom measurements must have a 5.8 to 7.8 inches in length. Its width must be between 1.8 to 2.1 inches in width. Its thickness must be between 0.001 inches to 0.003 inches. The weight requirement of the condom is that it must not exceed 0.07 ounces. Additional characteristics must include a minimum tensile strength of 15,000 pounds sa and elongation before breaking of 625%.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration regulated the condom to ensure that it is safe and effective. Different countries have a different regulatory agencies. In Europe the tested condoms must have the CE Mark. This means that the condom had been tested. In other countries, an ISO mark is necessary to show that it has already been approved. As stated above, there are standards for the condom for it to pass before it is released in the market.

III.             Types of Condom

There are many types of condom that exist in the market to date. Dawn Stacey (2008) had written an article regarding the different types of condom available in the market.  Stacey had enumerated 10 kinds of condom. The Night Light: Glow in the dark condom is the first described in her article. This brand is a non-toxic kind and will flow after 30 seconds of exposure to the ordinary light. As explained in the article, the condom has three layers. The inner and outer layer of the condom is composed of regular latex. The third layer contains a safe pigment that glows. It is sealed between the two latex layers. A fun surprise manufactured for people who are looking for fun.

Second variant described by Stacey are the flavored condoms. The flavor of the condoms are at times in the lubricant or directly put in the condom. Several flavored condoms are colored to match the flavor of the condom. Flavors available in the market include mint, grape, orange, banana, strawberry, chocolate, vanilla and cola. These condoms were developed for oral sex.

Third variant is the studded condom. These condoms are shaped and textured to increase pleasure sensations to the partners. There are different styles to the ribbing. Some condoms have two sections of ribs, on the top and at the base. This adds stimulation for females. Other condoms contain hundreds of raised studs on the outside for female satisfaction and inside for male enjoyment. The condoms marketed for mutual pleasure is usually wider and have bulb-like tips and has a contoured shape. This increases male comfort and allow nerve endings to stay at its most sensitive state.

Another variant is the warming condom. This type is made of thinner latex layer which helps to heighten sensation. It is designed to enhance the sensual pleasure by eleasing gentle and warm sensations for both partners. The condom has a warming lubricant and it is activated by natural body moisture. This heats up during sexual intercourse.

Another unexpected variant of condom that had been developed by the manufacturers is the edible condom. These condoms are packed in fours and are available in a variety of flavors. The condoms are rolled on and then can be eaten. One must consider that edible condoms are for novelty use only. It cannot give protection against pregnancy or STDs. Aside from the studs, there is the so-called pleasure shaoed condoms. These condoms are loose with an enlarged, pouch tips. The wider tops allow more friction during intercourse. The extra latex stimulates the nerve ends at the tips of the penis.  These condoms allows for more bigger action like the inspiral brand and the Trojan magnum Twister which can be described as having a winding twisting shape. This design is modelled to stimulate nerve endings and heighten sensitivity for the partners.

Colored Condoms are another type of condoms in the market. These condoms are available in different designs. There are tri-colored condoms that feature national colors of 36 countries. An example of featured country included in the design of the condom is America, Spain, France, Russia and Italy. There are also dual-colored condoms such as black and orange which represents Halloween, red and green which represent Christmas and pink and red which represents Valentine. A different type of flavoured Condom is the Kiss of Mint condoms.  This variant is made by Life Styles. It is nonp-lubricated and are coated wit a mint flavoured powder. It provides a sweet spearmint taste. These condoms is a real favourite for oral sex and is approved for pregnancy protection by the FDA.  The condom is wider than average and it also has a flared reservoir tip that heightens male sensation.

Another type of condom is the French Tickler. These condoms have a soft rubber tickler tip that is made up of soft jelly. These condoms fit over the penis and is available in various styles of nodules, nubs, ridges and shapes that give stimulation to the inner walls of the vagina. This is another condom that can be considered as a novelty type because these types do not provide prevention from pregnancy or disease.It can be worn with a regular condom underneath so that it would provide prevention of pregnancy or STD. Last variety discussed by Stacey is the Tingling Pleasure Condoms. These condoms contain a spearmint tingling lubricant and a minty scent. The condoms are designed to provide an intensifying tingling experience for both partners.

IV.             Effectiveness and Use of Condom

Condoms are considered as a very effective and a good prevention against HIV and STDs. It had been shown in the studies that the latex condom if used correctly can be used as a protection from these. Evidence of this can be found in a study made for discordant couples in Europe. There have been 123 couples who were reported to have consistently using condoms. Reports show that none of the uninfected partners have been infected. On other hand,  there are 122 couples who had been using condoms inconsistently. Twelve among the uninfected partners were infected. Correct and consistent use of latex condoms can reduce the risk of STDs. Studies show that condoms must be used consistently meaning it must be used from start to finish with each sexual intercourse.

In using condoms, a new condom must be used every intercourse. The condom must be put on as soon as the erection and sexual contact occurs. Sexual contact includes vaginal, anal and oral sex. When the condom is being put on, hold the tip and unroll it on the penis. Space must be provided at the tip of the condom. Air must not be trapped in the tip. Lubrication is important for condoms. Only the water-based lubricants must be used on latex condoms. Oil based lubricants such as petroleum jelly, cold cream, hand lotion and baby oil weakens the condom and is not recommended. Oil-based lubricants can be use for condoms made of polyurethane. The male was withdraw from the partner immediately after ejaculation. The condom must be held firmly to keep it from slipping off.

Studies show that condom effectiveness have counted often women who have become pregnant when their partners have used condoms for birth control. Failure rate of the condom includes the couple who is not consistently using condoms or not using condom correctly. There are also studies that included the times the condom was torn accidentally by the people who are using it. It can be further accounted that the main reason why the condom fails to prevent HIV and STD infection or pregnancy is because of the incorrect use and the failure of the condom.  Improper use includes the use of oil-based lubricants to latex condoms, condoms that had been exposed to heat, sunlight and aged condom. Condoms that had also been torn by teeth and fingernails also contribute to the failure rate of the condom.

In the United States, studies of breakage that had fault in the condom shows that breakage rate is less than 2 out of every 100 condoms. Studies indicate that condoms slip off the penis in 1-5% of acts of vaginal intercourse and slip down about 3 to 13% of the time.

V.                Culture and Condom

In countries where HIV occurrence rate is high, many people cannot afford to purchase condoms. Adults and teenagers who are sexually active relay on condoms that are provided for free or sold at a very low price. There are times that the government supply and promote condoms in the poorest countries. These are from donations from the outside agencies such as the UNFPA and the US agency for International Development (USAID). Data shows that between 1990 and 2005, the number of condoms that had been donated had risen. Before the year 1996, the supply of condoms is able to meet the demand however in the recent case, this is not so.

UNFPA had estimated that there are at least 13.1 billion condoms  are needed in 2005 to reduce the spread of HIV, another 4.4 billion is necessary for family planning. The number of condoms that had been donated in the year 2005 is only 1.8 billion, this only represent 10% of the need.

In the year 200 and 2005, fourteen countries receive an average of greater than 10 donated condoms per male per year. These countries have HIV epidemics with the exception of Haiti. Most of them are in sub-Saharan Africa. Top listed places include Congo, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Cape Verde. These places had received more than 20 condoms per male per year. The developing countries outside the sub-saharan Africa tend to receive lower numbers of donated condoms per male. Average below one condom per male per year is considered as the average outside sub-Saharan Africa.

Works Cited:

Avert. (2008). Condoms: History, testing, effectiveness and Availability. Retrieved last April 22, 2008 from Avert. Website: http://www.avert.org/condoms.htm

Condom Depot. (2008). The History of Condoms. Retrieved last April 22, 2008 from Go Live. Website: http://www.condomdepot.com/learn/condom-history.cfm

How Products Are Made (2006). Condom. Retrieved last April 22, 2008 from How Products are Made Volume 2. Website: http://www.madehow.com/Volume-2/Condom.html

Avert. (2008). Using Condoms, condom types and sizes. Retrieved last April 22, 2008 from Avert. Website: http://www.avert.org/usecond.htm

Avert. (2008). Condoms and Spermicides. Retrieved last April 22, 2008 from Avert. Website: http://www.avert.org/faqcond.htm

Stacey, D. (2008). Condom Types. Retrieved last April 22, 2008 from About.com. Website: http://contraception.about.com/od/malecondom/tp/CondomTypes.htm

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History and Evolution of Condom. (2016, Aug 28). Retrieved from


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