Ah, the condom. Also known as a rubber, english raincoat, battle helmet, penis hat, love glove, willie warmer, preservative, cock sock, wet suit, wiener wrapper, johnny bag, snake charmer, salami sling.

Whatever your preferred nickname, one thing is for certain. This glorious invention has spared many men and women from the woes of venereal disease and unwanted babies.

Recently, Asylum got the chance to speak with Lillie C. Thomas, the Condom Historian for Sensis Condoms. (Yes, there is a such thing as a condom historian). She's served on the American Society for Testing and Materials as part of the U.S. delegation on condoms since 1995.

Keep reading for some key highlights from the condom's history courtesy of Thomas, including the dreadful days of condom prohibition, famous condom users throughout history and the weird things condoms used to be made from.


1000 BCE
Wikimedia.org
Believe it or not, condoms have been around for quite a while. "The first pictures of something that looked like a condom was in Egypt, and it was made of sheep membranes," Thomas tells us.

Other ancient uses come from the Romans, who "were also supposed to have a membrane they wore made from the muscle tissue of men they defeated in battle" as well as the old school Chinese, who "used silk or rice paper to cover the penis."
100-200 CE
The French draw pictures in caves that show men wearing condoms on their members.
700-900
The Japanese begin making condoms out of tortoise shells. Um... ouch.
1564
encyclopedia.com
The first clinical study proving condoms can protect against disease is conducted by Gabriel Fallopius of Italy.
1706
The first use of the word "condom" in English literature occurs in a poem by Lord Belhaven. The poem, titled "The Scots Answer to a British Vision," refers to the "condum" as "contemporary instruments for combating venereal disease."
1750s
Wikimedia.org
Casanova himself makes good use of the condom. Yep, the Venetian adventurer and womanizer extraordinaire understood the importance of slapping a wrapper on his mini-me.

Needless to say, his post-sack habits weren't conducive to good health. "He used to wash them out and hang them on a line to dry," Thomas tells us. (Casanova pictured with condom.)
1870s
The Comstock Act prohibits the sale of condoms in the United States.
1840s
George Iles, Wikimedia
Charles Goodyear perfects his rubber process which in turn allows condoms to stretch and fit. Pre-Goodyear, condoms had to be snapped on, tied on, or just held on. Talk about the potential for bedroom blunders.

"It also provided much thinner protection so that enjoyment and protection could occur at the same time," Thomas explains. "Until the 1840s, condoms were made out of cloth -- velvet-lined sometimes -- or sheep/pig intestines."
1930s
Condom prohibition ends, but not before the U.S. "sent soldiers to WWI without protection," Thomas tells us. The result? A lot of French and British women knocked up by U.S. soldiers.
1957
Durex blesses men and women of all shapes and sizes with the first lubricated condom.
1990s
Anka Grzywacz, Wikimedia
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves the female condom.

Condoms enter the world of chromatic colors and a variety of flavors.
Present
Advancements in the world of condoms continue in the form of very thin condoms (thank you, thank you, thank you), rubbers ribbed for her pleasure and other cool technologies. And in a world that invented fried macaroni and cheese, we can only dream of what bold new developments are still to come.