Rubbers, Covers, Snake Charmers…Oh My!

By: Jessica

I love condoms! And it isn’t just because I’m a sexuality educator and I know how effective they can be. Read more and perhaps you’ll be as excited as I am!

Did you know that the earliest known illustration of a man using a condom is a 12,000–15,000-year-old painting on the wall of a cave in France?[1] Or that the modern condom is one of the most accessible and inexpensive forms of birth control available? (The cost of condoms can be as low as $0.04 each2.) Or that the famous lover, Casanova, mentions the use of the condoms in his autobiography, Histoire de ma vie (Story of My Life)–he called them assurance caps.”

vday 1 1 This picture of a condomfrom the 1640s shows what condoms looked like—this could be similar to the “assurance caps” that Casanova used.

With such a fascinating history, it’s no wonder the condom has its own week of celebration in February! National Condom Week originated at The University of California – Berkeley3 and has grown over the years to be celebrated across the nation. Many of us have a great love of the condom. Why is that? Well condoms, when used consistently and correctly, provide the best protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV (among others), and they help prevent unplanned pregnancy. This is important to know since the CDC estimates that there are 19 million cases of STIs reported every year in the US.4

I understand that not everyone loves condoms because they feel sex is not as pleasurable when wearing one. Some people find that adding lube on the inside and outside of the condom increases the pleasure for both partners. Other people prefer textured or flavored condoms. Consider the confidence to be gained. Many women and men say they find sex more enjoyable when they’re protected because they aren’t worrying about pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections[i].

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Ready for some more facts about condoms?
■A regular condom can hold about 4 quarts of liquid.5
■There is a right and wrong side to a condom. If it doesn’t unroll smoothly from the rim on the outside, then it’s upside down and you will need to get a new condom.
■The worst place to carry a condom is in your back pocket; a shirt pocket or protective case is better.
■Condoms have expiration dates: three years with spermicide, five years without spermicide.
–“The most commonly used spermicide in the U.S. is called nonoxynol-9. Nonoxynol-9 has certain risks. If it is used many times a day, or if it is used by people at risk for HIV, it may irritate tissue and increase the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.” 5
■There is a male and a female condom.
■Women worldwide purchase 40-70% of condoms.5
■Oils and lotions can cause the latex of the condom to break down. That is why you should only use water based lubricants (i.e. KY Jelly, Astroglide and other lubricants made specifically for condoms).
■Condoms come in a variety of styles, sizes and flavors.

So let’s celebrate the rubber, the glove, the hat, the prophylactic, the raincoat, the… (tell us your favorite name for the condom in the comments)

Your local Planned Parenthood of Indiana sells condoms and has other forms of birth control for you to choose from. Call 1-800-230-PLAN or visit our site to find your nearest location to make your appointment.

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1.Parisot, Jeannette. Johnny Come Lately: A Short History of the Condom, 1985. London: Journeyman Press Ltd
2.UNAIDS. (2010). Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic 2010. Geneva: UNAIDS

[1] Girl, C. (n.d.). History of Condomsl. Retrieved February 13, 2013, from Condom Girl:


2 thoughts on “Rubbers, Covers, Snake Charmers…Oh My!

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