Condom’s 350th anniversary.
London museum exposes one of the most ancient contraceptive devices.
It is made of animal intestine. Before being used it was required to be soaked with milk. An exhibition in Netherlands had condoms produced in the middle of XVII century. They were found in the debris of toilet in Medieval Dadly castle in 1985.
Ancient historian chronicles testify of using condoms at that time. Legendary Minos, the czar of Crete living in 3000s A.C. was the first known person to invent condom. He had a pressing need of this.
The czar had a serious problem: his faithlessness angered his wife Pasifaya and she bewitched him. When he was making love with a woman, the sperm he ejaculated turned into serpents and scorpions. They attacked the woman and killed her.
The czar started being run out of women. However, he found the way out of the situation by placing the goat’s urinary bladder into the vagina of his next mistress. This innovation was of success – the woman stayed alive while Pasifaya had no idea that her husband had committed adultery. From that time czar Minos started regular using bladders as contraceptive devices.
There are chronicles of using contraceptive devices in Ancient Egypt during the XIX Dynasty (1350 -1200 AC). It is hard to understand the condom application by the discovered drawings – whether they were used for sex or religious cult. They were also used as decoration for men. They were small hoods made of animal intestine and bladder. The contraceptive devices were also decorated with gems and put into the grave of a dead man.
In Ancient Rome condom prototypes were applied both for decoration and for contraception to protect people from diseases. They were used more often than in Egypt, and the raw material for manufacturing contraceptive devices was more accessible. Roman legionaries made contraceptive devices of muscle tissue of enemy warriors they had killed. Ancient Rome military leaders took care of supplying their soldiers with dried cattle intestine for contraceptive devices. Animal bladders were used as condoms for women.
According to other sources, the first contraceptive device was made of leather and pharaoh Tutankhamen used it. Simultaneously the Japanese invented similar “kavagata” device of very soft leather.
In 1493 Columbus with his crew returned to Barcelona from West-India. Soon after their return there were rumors of mysterious disease carried by sailors and soldiers. People sociability was the cause of the epidemic disseminating around the world. In 1495 syphilis was in France, Germany and Switzerland. Two years later England and Scotland joined the list of the countries being familiar with this disease.
Expedition of Portuguese traveler Vasco de Gama brought syphilis to India in 1498 году, then the disease reached China in 1505. In 1499 syphilis was registered in Hungary and Russia. Even preachers had this disease: Crete’s Archbishop died of syphilis in 1506! By XVI century syphilis was the most common disease in the world. For example, in Italy up to 70 percent of adult population suffered from syphilis.
During the period of Renaissance Italian doctor and anatomist Gabriel Fallopio (some people call him Fallopius) was the first to undertake measure on preventing syphilis. He recommended to use for sexual intercourse a small flax bag soaked with antiseptic solution of herbs and non-organic salts. According to Fallopio, this measure was supposed to protect people from venereal diseases. He said he had tested the bag on 1,110 men and none of them had been infected.
In XVIII century court circle doctor, Colonel of the Royal Army of Charles II, Earl Condom started popularizing contraceptive device for preventing pregnancy. The amorous monarch was embarrassed with the big number of his heirs, and the doctor made contraceptive caps out of sheep intestine. In this way the monarch could continue pursuing his idea of family life.
Many aristocrats ordered such items from Dr Condom, and small-scale manufacturing of them was organized in England and other European countries in XVII century.
However, only on the eve of XVIII century condoms became widely used. People liked their advantages such as protection from venereal diseases, preventing pregnancy and small size.
In XVIII century production lines manufacturing condoms were established. Producing first condoms was very complex, but in 1843 rubber vulcanization was discovered and made it possible and affordable to produce condoms on mass scale.
In Russia condoms started being manufactured in 1930-s. Stalin’s close associate Lavrenty Beria supported construction of Bakovsky Rubber Factory opened in 1936 and known all over the country by producing condoms or “items number two” by another name. The origin of this nickname was simple: gas-mask was item number 1 produced by the factory.
Condom use was booming from 1920s until 60s. In 60s condoms became unpopular because of people’s relying on antibiotics and contraceptive pills. However, in 1980s people started preferring condoms again.
Modern generation is lucky to have wide choice of condoms, there are condoms with “moustaches”, corrugated, aromatized, of different sizes, colors and tastes.
In some countries condoms of New Zealand lamb intestine are still popular, despite the fact that they do not protect from viruses.