The History of Condoms


Who invented the Condom? The history of the non-rubber condom dates back many years across various countries.  The name of the person often, and incorrectly, associated with inventing the modern, rubber Condom is Charles Goodyear (1800 - 1860). Charles Goodyear, a talented American chemist and engineer, was the inventor of the rubber vulcanization process in 1839 and this new material was used by other rubber manufacturers to make the first rubber condoms in 1855.

Definition of the Condom: The Condom is defined as a thin rubber, or latex, sheath-shaped contraceptive device used as a barrier during sexual intercourse to catch semen during ejaculation to reduce the possibility of pregnancy and to decrease the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and stop the spread of disease-causing bacteria.


Facts about the history of the Condom


 Inventions and Inventors Index


Fact 1: Who invented the Condom? Ancient civilizations undoubtedly used a variety of birth control methods to prevent pregnancy but there is absolutely no evidence that ancient civilizations used sheaths or an early type of condom for such a purpose.

Fact 2: Who invented the Condom? Early methods used for  the purpose of birth control invariably involved the use of plants, herbs and other natural substances to reduce the risk of pregnancy. 

Fact 3: Who invented the Condom? The Ancient Mesopotamians and Egyptians used acacia and honey as contraception. This odd sounding prevention method was based on some knowledge, as we now know that Acacia gum ferments into lactic acid, which can act as a spermicide.

Fact 4: Who invented the Condom? The Ancient Greeks and Romans used the now extinct silphium or laserwort as a contraceptive plant. Silphium was closely associated with sexuality and love. Modern scholars that Silphium possessed estrogenic or abortifacient properties

Fact 5: Who invented the Condom? The first use of a condom appears to have been in the 15th century. Its purpose however was not as a contraceptive but as a form of protection against sexually transmitted disease. This was a period of great change as the age of exploration and as people arrived in different lands various hitherto unknown diseases spread amongst people who had not built up any immunity to fight such infections. 

Fact 6: Who invented the Condom? Different types of condoms were invented to combat the spread of deadly sexually transmitted diseases, especially syphilis, using materials such as animal intestines or bladders and linen soaked in various chemicals and then dried.

Fact 7: Who invented the Condom? The use of the Condom helped to reduce the spread of disease and also contributed to a fall in the birth rate.

Fact 8: Who invented the Condom? Any form of contraception was condemned by both Catholic and Protestant Christian churches. The Catholic Church had been opposed to contraception since the second century. The Great Protestant reformers such as Martin Luther (1483-1546) and John Calvin (1509 - 1564) also included their opposition to contraception in their doctrines.

Fact 9: Who invented the Condom? The use of contraception was perceived as intrinsically evil and discussion of such a subject was unmentionable.

Fact 10: Who invented the Condom? These views only 'softened' in the 20th century, and until this time it was unthinkable to talk about contraception.

Fact 11: Who invented the Condom? The oldest condoms ever discovered by archaeologists were found in a cesspit located in the grounds of Dudley Castle in England and dated back to the 1640's. The condoms found at Dudley Castle were made from sheep bladders and thought to have been used by the soldiers who were defending the castle from Oliver Cromwell’s army in 1642.

Fact 12: Who invented the Condom? The history of the modern Condom really began in 1839 when Charles Goodyear (1800 - 1860), a talented American chemist and engineer, invented the rubber vulcanization process. This chemical process converted natural rubber into more durable materials by the addition of sulfur and revolutionized the use and applications of rubber.

Fact 13: Who invented the Condom? The first rubber condoms were produced in 1855 by several major rubber companies. Early rubber condoms had to be fitted by a doctor but rubber manufacturers quickly realized sales would rocket if they were sold at pharmacies or by mail order as a one-size-fits-all condom.

Fact 14: Who invented the Condom? In 1912 Julius Fromm (1883 – 1945) a German entrepreneur and chemist invented a process for making condoms from liquefied rubber which made a thinner, seamless condom.

Fact 15: Who invented the Condom? Latex was invented in the 1920's and the first latex condom was manufactured by the Youngs Rubber Company. This involved a process with rubber suspended in water, which allowed the latex to mold into the desired shape. A Latex condom was stronger and thinner than a rubber condom. The mass produced Latex condom were also much cheaper.

Fact 16: Who invented the Condom? In 1929 the London Rubber Company created the first latex condom brand they called Durex standing for "durability, reliability and excellence" which is still a well-known and widely-distributed brand to the present day.

Fact 17: Who invented the Condom? The origin of the word 'Condom' is obscure but the most likely theory is that it derives from the word 'cumdum' meaning a scabbard or case.

Fact 18: Who invented the Condom? The use of the word 'Condom', also spelled 'condam' or 'quondam' can be traced back to the late 1600's.

Fact 19: Who invented the Condom? The very word 'Condom' was treated as the equivalent to a swear word and was omitted from the Oxford English Dictionary because readers would have deemed it to be obscene. The word was eventually included in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1969!

Fact 20: Who invented the Condom? The  word 'condom' was not used openly in the United States or Great Britain until the 1980's. In the United States condoms were commonly referred to as prophylactics, or by the nickname 'rubbers'. In Britain they were called 'French letters' or referred to using the manufacturer's name such as Durex. It is interesting to note that the word 'prophylactic' was a medical term meaning "that tends to prevent disease".

Fact 21: Who invented the Condom? Condoms were not advertised in the mass media until after a speech made in by C. Everett Koop the Surgeon General of the United States on the subject of AIDS prevention. C. Everett Koop made his speech at the National Press Club in Washington in late March 1987.

Fact 22: Who invented the Condom? The stigma that was once so closely associated with the Condom has virtually disappeared and it is now widely used as a method of birth control and decrease the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as HIV/AIDS.

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