The Weird History of Condoms - Play Safe
The fun stuff
NSW Government
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These days condoms are easy to find – they’re sold in supermarkets, chemists and convenience stores. You can even get condoms for free at some youth services, family planning services, Aboriginal medical services and sexual health services.

But it wasn’t always like this.

  • Around 3000 BC, King Minos of Crete is said to have used a condom made from the bladder of a goat
  • The Ancient Egyptians used linen sheaths during sex to prevent tropical diseases like Bilharzia
  • Condoms in Ancient Greece were made of linen and sheep or goat intestine or bladder
  • In early Japanese civilisation, men used to put caps made of tortoise shell over the head of their penis
  • During the 17th century condoms were widely used for contraception, and they were made by butchers out of sheep or goat intestines
  • The first rubber condom was created in the 1800s – they were not as gross as animal intestines, but they did have to be fitted to size
  • Modern latex condoms were invented in 1920 – thin, comfortable and more natural feeling than thick rubber
  • In 1957 the first lubricated male condom was launched
  • In 1984, an inventive Danish doctor by the name of Lasse Hessel invented the first female condom. This condom was made out of polyurethane (a plastic). Soon after, male polyurethane condoms were developed
  • In March 2013, Bill Gates launched a global competition to develop the next generation of condoms
  • Today around 18 billion condoms are produced around the world every year

Now condoms are affordable, easy to get, comfortable, and come in all different colours, flavours and textures to make sex even more fun and safe.

If you want to know more about condoms you can ring the NSW Sexual Health Infolink on 1800 451 624 between 9:00am and 5:30pm Monday to Friday to talk with a sexual health nurse. It’s confidential and free when you call from a landline.

We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we live and work and recognise their ongoing connection to land, waters and communities. We pay our respects to Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.

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