A condom is a contraceptive device used during sexual intercourse to lessen the risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. The device is placed over the penis and the semen is collected in the condom instead of being transferred to the sexual partner. They have been used for hundreds of years, but rose to prominence in the 19th century. Since this time they have remained one of the most popular methods of birth control in the world. If you have ever wondered what a condom is made out of, keep reading to find out.
What are condoms made of?
The earliest condoms were made of fabric, animal intestines, leather and similar materials. In 1839 a method for making natural rubber elasticized was invented and in 1855 the first rubber condom was created. In 1920 latex condoms were invented and these quickly became very popular because they were strong while being very thin and offering a much longer shelf life than the rubber versions. In 1930 the automated latex condom production line was invented and the popularity of this contraceptive continued to rise.
Today, latex remains the most popular material used to make condoms. However, there are many people that suffer with latex allergies and synthetic condoms made from polyurethane are also commonly available. These are less elastic than the latex version, which can lead to slippage and/or breakage. A synthetic version of latex called polyisoprene, with has the protein responsible for the allergy removed, is also used to make condoms. Another material that is used to make condoms is referred to as lambskin. Despite the name these condoms are actually made from sheep intestines!
Female condoms are also available and these are commonly made out of polyurethane or nitrile.
Did you know?
Latex condoms should not be used with oil based lubricants because the latex may be damaged and reduce the effectiveness of the condom.