When Were Condoms Invented? A History of Condoms & Some Fun Facts

Ever wondered when condoms were invented? You’re in luck! Learn how safe sex practices came to be, various ancient condoms, and when condoms were first used.

when were condoms invented

Practicing SAFE SEX may seem much more relevant today, but here’s the truth: people have already been using protection for hundreds, even thousands of years.

Yes, their techniques may require more, shall we say, creativity than simply putting on a piece of latex. But they, nevertheless, should get some credit for working with what they got.

So if you’re interest is piqued, we’ll explore a quick history lesson on those tiny latex marvels known as condoms.

Let’s delve far into the world of rubbers! 

So sit back, relax, and maybe have a cup of coffee while you’re at it. This article will show you how far protection has come over the years. 

A Timeline of the Oldest Condoms


1,000 BC

The preferred protection in Ancient Egypt was reportedly linen. Although, it was more for guarding against insect bites during sex rather than preventing unwanted pregnancies and STDs.

On the other hand, historical accounts say that animal bladders were the favored contraceptive method for the Romans and the Greeks.

In the East, the Japanese had men cover their penis in leather and tortoise shells during sex. In comparison, China used oiled silk paper as a slightly milder cover. 

100-200 AD

Scenes from cave paintings at Combarelles, France, provide the oldest indication of condom use in Europe. Those depictions were dated 100 to 200 AD.

The Renaissance

The 1400s

The Japanese continued to use tortoise shells by the 15th century. But they had now added animal horns to their arsenal.

The 1500s

Italian anatomist Gabriele Falloppio documented the earliest published description and experiments of prophylactic condom use in the 1500s. He claimed to have created a linen sheath and tested it on 1,100 men, none of whom had contracted Syphilis due to the tests.

The 1600s

It is still unclear where the word “condom” originated. According to some folklore, Dr. Condom or Conton, who served in King Charles II’s court in the 1600s, was responsible for the development. However, it is more likely that the term comes from the Latin word “condus,” which means “receptacle.”

The Age of Reason

The 1700s

In the 1700s, the condom (made from animal guts) gained notoriety and appeal. According to literature from the era, the condom’s properties were now understood by many during this time.

In his autobiography from 1774, the notorious Giacomo Casanova described how he would BLOW up condoms to check for tears and holes.

Many businesses then printed handbills and ads by 1766.

There were also two different types of condoms often used by Japanese people:

  • Kabutogata – made from tortoiseshell or horn
  • Kawagata or Kyotai – made from thin leather

The Age Of Imperialism

The 1800s

Evidence points to Casanova again, the fabled 19th-century lover, as a frequent user of condoms for birth control. Condoms were referred to as “Redingote Anglaise” by him.

Soon, Charles Goodyear and Thomas Hancock produced the first rubber condom after the 1840s had vulcanized rubber in the scene.

The method or procedure known as vulcanization entails treating raw rubber with sulfur and heating it to a high temperature. The rubber then becomes a sturdy, elastic material due to this process.

The New York Times published the first condom advertisement in the United States in 1861. At the time, reviews of the ad were polarizing.

Great Depression

The 1930s

Liquid latex manufacturing overtook crepe rubber production in the 1930s. Many manufacturers even use it as their foundation today. The procedure itself was much easier to control and less disorganized and pungent.

Contemporary Period

The 1980s

Before the HIV and AIDS hysteria took hold, condoms were a taboo and uncomfortable topic that was even subject to scrutiny on television.

However, after the crisis, condoms were propelled to the mainstream masses.

World Health Experts concurred that condoms were the MOST EFFECTIVE method of preventing HIV, given the high number of deaths and new disease cases at the time. And yes, these cases also include celebrities. 

The 1990s

The condom was greatly enhanced by new technology in the 1990s, making it possible to produce far MORE ADVANCED variants. There are now condoms in various flavors, sizes, and textures, as well as ones that illuminate in the dark

The 21st Century

The 2000s

The condom is creating historical waves in the new millennium, and its future appears more promising than ever.

The dominance of condoms in contemporary culture cements itself in the 2000s thanks to materials like Polyurethane and Polyisoprene. But, of course, there are also absurdly innovative designs and sizes, making them that appealing to the masses. 

The 2010s

In 2013, beef tendon-based condoms could be the newest big thing, according to Bill Gates.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced that it would donate $1 million in funding towards developing a new kind of condom that does the job without sacrificing personal pleasure.

The challenge attracted media interest and garnered some notice to the more innovative ideas, such as one that can “shrink wrap” to cover the penis and another made of graphene that is reportedly stronger than steel.

Some Fun Facts About Condoms

We know a lot about condoms, including their effectiveness in preventing STIs and pregnancy, their wide range of designs, and their strange propensity for breaking when you need them the most.

But we also don’t know a lot of things. Like its alternative uses, the quantity provided to Olympian athletes, and the integrity of Magnums. So be ready to be astounded.

Here are a few fun facts that you may want to know about condoms. And yes, some of them may be useless. But that’s what makes it fun. 

1. Condoms Used To Be Reusable.

Animal-based condoms were offered to the general public for a fee as early as the 1600s. An escort may quickly lose a three-month wage on one condom. 

Therefore, people opt for reusing condoms back then. 

2. They Have A Four-Year Shelf Life.

Just keep them cool and dry. And that condom you bought may stay with you for at least three to four years. 

3. They Have Alternative Uses

Some alternative uses that condoms can do include transporting water, making slingshots, guarding tinder, lighting a fire, and acting as rubber gloves. However, people have also used them for drug trafficking, the reconstruction of highways, and the waterproofing of roofs.

4. Double-bagging doesn’t help.

4. Double-bagging doesn’t help

It is false. I repeat, FALSE—that wearing two condoms will provide additional protection. Double-wrapping will just increase the likelihood of the condom breaking during sex.

5. Olympians Use A LOT Of Condoms.

At the Sydney Summer Olympics, 6,582 male competitors carried 70,000 condoms. When the competitors’ supplies ran out, there was a last-minute order of 20,000.

Fast forward to 2014, athletes competing in the Sochi Olympics received 100,000 condoms, roughly giving each competitor 35 condoms each.

Sheesh. Now that’s A LOT. Mamma mia

6. They Used To Only Come Through Rx

Yes, purchasing rubbers was embarrassing because you needed a prescription to get your hands on them. And if you were a woman, it would be virtually impossible.

Condoms were in vending machines in 1928, which was fortunate for everyone who was getting into some mischief with flappers and mobsters at the height of Prohibition. The first global condom producer, the German company, Fromms Act, made that possible.

7. The Nazis Took Over

Speaking of the Fromms Act, Julius Fromm established a condom empire in 1931 throughout Germany, manufacturing more than 50,000,000 condoms for global use.

Born a Jew, Fromm saw the rising anti-Semitism in Germany and left for London in 1938, where the Nazis seized his company. Fromm had always hoped to return to Germany and take back control of his business, but he passed away in London 3 days after the war ended.

8. Magnums Are A Complete Sham

Sorry to break it to you, but Magnums are a marketing gimmick.

They can fit a circumference of at least 5.3 inches. But in reality, they work with most penis sizes, even the very, very average ones.

Some brands prefer to hide the fact that these “magnum” products have the same length and base circumference as standard condoms. Advertisers only realized that men would be motivated to purchase anything if they had their penises labeled as “magnums.”

Looking for extra information on condoms? Check out our condom recommendations, from smallest to biggest.

9. Condoms Back Then Only Cover The Tip

Glans condoms were once all the rage. Chinese men used small pieces of oiled silk over their penises during the pre-15th-century. In the meantime, men in Japan wore tortoiseshell caps on the tips of their peckers.

10. Pregnancy-Prevention Methods Were Wild Before Condoms

Women have experimented with various bizarre pregnancy prevention techniques in the past. Some examples include consuming mercury or lead, dipping sponges in lemon juice before applying to the vagina, wearing weasel balls, shooting Coca-Cola into their crotch, and inserting alligator feces into their lady parts.

Now that’s what you call thinking outside of the box

Final Thoughts

The stigma associated with purchasing condoms has, for the most part, disappeared in today’s society. Condoms are a vital necessity in today’s culture due to the spread of HIV and the AIDS virus. And also for those couples that want to avoid unwanted pregnancies. 

If you think about it, they have come a long way since their invention more than three thousand years ago!

Dainis Graveris

Dainis Graveris

Over last 4 years Dainis have helped millions of people through his advice on this site (200+ guides and 1M+ visits/monthly). His work & advice has appeared on sites like: Healthline, Vice, Cosmopolitan, Men's Health, WomensHealthMag, MindBodyGreen & more. Read More.

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