History of condoms: when were condoms invented

Sexy neon lights

At Tingle, we’re passionate about condoms and on our quest to supply our customers with the best condoms on the market, we’ve learned a lot. Some of the most interesting discoveries and facts have been about how condoms were invented.

If you’ve ever wondered where the idea for condoms came from, we’re giving you all the low down on the history of condoms to boost your knowledge. 

When were condoms invented?

There’s a lot of controversy surrounding the dates that the condom first came to fruition, however, we do know that condoms have been used for thousands of years.

It’s thought that condoms have been around since the days of mammoth hunting, which was around 12,000 years ago. A French cave drawing is cited as one of the earliest historical traces of condoms, and Greek and Egyptian drawings indicate that a variant of the condom may have been in use as early as 1200 BC. It’s likely that these condoms were created using the innards of animals, or linen cloths and studies have shown that Ancient Romans used the bladder of animals to protect themselves from pregnancy.

How did condoms evolve?

It’s thought that condoms went in and out of fashion until the fall of the Roman Empire when an outbreak of syphilis occurred in Europe and Asia. This STI was claiming lives, so an inventor named Gabriele Falloppio tested linen sheaths to see if they prevented the disease and helped people practice safer sex.

Of 1,100 men tested, none of them caught syphilis and in the 1500s this was a huge advancement in condom technology. Linen condoms then reigned across the globe for centuries, until Charles Goodyear invented a process that allowed the first rubber condom to be created.

The beginning of the rubber condom

The rubber condom was created in the mid-1800s after Charles Goodyear invented the rubber vulcanisation process. By 1861, the first ad for a condom appeared in the New York Times and following that, the rubber condom became one of the most popular contraception methods.

Latex condoms became a cheap and disposable method of birth control and by the time World War One came around condoms were mass-produced and handed out to troops to stop STIs.

Between the early-1900s and the 1950s, condoms were very popular and in the 1950s the design was improved to make them thinner, safer and more comfortable. Lubricated condoms came a lot later than ordinary varieties, with the first lubricated condom being launched in the UK in 1957.

Following an HIV outbreak in the 80s, condom popularity boomed as according to studies, when it comes to HIV, using condoms is 10,000 times safer than going without. The Guttmacher Institute research has shown that the use of the male condom increased from being used by 52% of people in 1982 to 93% in 2006-2010. During that period, condom design has been improving year on year and now we have ultra safe condoms that can even improve the sensation of sex. 

If you want to stay protected from the dangers of STIs, you can browse our full range of condoms over on our website. Alternatively, why not read our recent article on the grandma who is proving that sex isn’t just for the young.