The device used to cover the penis, during intercourse, to prevent the spread of semen, or the contraction of various diseases.
The covering one uses over the penis, that helps prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases such as Herpes, syphilis, HIV, and others.
There is no proof that condoms were used or even available in any form, during Ancient Times.
They were recorded as coming into use during the later 1490's after the outbreak of Syphilis from the French Army in 1495, which devastated the world.
Gabriele Falloppi is credited as being one who is may have invented the first condom, and described it in the publication of De Morbo Collecto (The French Disease which was in reference to Syphilis) published 2 years after his death. (published in 1564)
This early 'condom' was described as being linen clothes soaked in a chemical, which was allowed to dry before use. It was tied onto the penis, by ribbons, and covered the glans (tip of the penis, the cock head) of the penis.
First recorded association of such devices for birth control was in a theological paper (1605) by Leonardo Lessius, a Catholic theologian. He claimed such use was immoral and a sin.
During the 18th Century, many professionals discounted the use of condoms, which had evolved to being made not just from linen clothes, but from intestines, bladders, which were cleaned and then sized to various lengths.
During this time, the cry against their use was mainly on religious grounds, rather than medical. Though some claimed use of such devices did not properly protect a person from Syphilis, and that due to their lack of allowing full sensation, many who were engaged in risky sex, simply did not use them.
The 'skin' types were treated with lye and sulphur, and were readily available in barbershops, pubs, chemist shops, street fairs, and theaters,
Linen styled condoms lost their popularity, due mainly to their price.
In 1912 a German invented a process where a glass tube was inserted into a rubber liquid, that then formed a rubber covering over the mold.
During the latter part of the 19th Century, rates of sexually transmitted disease in America led to the sex education in schools. However, these classes promoted Abstinence rather than condoms, due to objection from Moralists, and even Professionals.
At that time, the so called medical profession, and religious groups in America believed that STD's were just punishment for sexual misbehavior. In fact, due to the stigma attached to such diseases, many Hospitals, at the time, would refuse to treat patients so afflicted.
Historians however, argue that such attitudes along with the Comstock Law, led to the rampant rise in STD's in America at that time, along with the Civil War.
The placing of a condom is to unwrap it, then pinching the tip, to unroll the thin plastic, latex, covering down the aroused penis, to the base.
Upon completion of intercourse, or upon the desire to remove the penis from the anus / vagina, one should hold the unrolled base of the condom, to prevent it from remaining in the orifice.
Practice (Associated Acts): Many latex condoms were manufactured with a spermacide included, called Nonoxynol-9 which was believed to help prevent pregnancies, as well as the transmission of diseases by killing the sperm once ejaculated.
This was supposedly to help in case of breakage, however it is now widely discontinued, due to its proven ineffectiveness. In fact, it is thought to lead to increased HIV infection, rather than less, and has been shown to be less than effective in curbing pregnancies.
In fact, it is recommended to use a spermacide outside the condom, for improved protection against pregnancy.
Condoms made from Latex that include a spermacide have a shorter shelf life as well, and people using them need to check the expiry date before use.
Latex condoms are not recommended for use with oil based lubricants due to possible inter reaction between the two, causing the latex to be less stable.
Polyurethane Condoms are more rigid, and can be used with oil based lubricants. In addition they do have a higher shelf life than latex condoms.
These types are more sensitive to heat, (friction caused by intercourse) and claim to be more sensitive or allow more feeling to be felt during intercourse.
However, due to their rigid nature, and being a more snug fit, they are more able to break, during use.
Noteworthy: First use of the word 'condom' (or similar word) itself was found to be from the English Birth Rate Commission in 1666, where it associated the decline in the birth rate due to the use of 'condons'
Use of condoms was wide spread in Europe, but mention of such use appeared in the USA around the 1800's, long after the Revolutionary War.
Condoms were illegal in the Republic of Ireland, until the 1970's. In some form or other, there were legal complications for condoms throughout the world.
Distribution of Condoms in the United States was made illegal through the mail system, by passage of the Comstock Act in 1873.
State laws in about 30 states, prevented the manufacture, or sale of condoms.
New condoms are being developed as well, one in Quebec that is a gel that is applied to the penis, which dries and forms an effective barrier against tested viruses.
It is not yet commercially available but holds promise for being more effective than current latex or polyurethane condoms. The gel hardens by temperature, created during intercourse. It eventually dissolves a few hours after use.
A German Scientist is also currently testing a Spray On Condom, that claims to dry in about 5 seconds. The advantages are that the spray forms an exact fit to the penis, and provides no change in sensation or feeling, while providing a barrier to disease transmission.
Not commercially available, it supposedly is in clinical trials.
According to a 2000 report from the National Institute of Health, condoms prevent the transmission of the AIDS/HIV Virus by about 85% of the time. This is based on comparisons between those who use condoms, and those who don't.
Rate of condom breakage is believed to be between 0.4% and 2.3%
The rate of condoms slipping off during intercourse is considered to be between 0.6% and 1.3%
It is reported, that the more experienced the user is with condoms, the less slippage of the condom occurs.
Condoms have been used, are used, in other fields as well, due to their air tight qualities.
They can be used to cover the end of a rifle, to avoid dirt or other debris from entering the barrel.
The OSS used condoms to store explosives, and some electrical devices, to prevent exposure to air, to liquid.
Navy SEALS have used them to wrap underwater charges, the firing mechanisms.
They are also practical means of storing water for emergencies, or on long trips, given their elastic properties.
Used also for more criminal activity, such as smuggling. Mostly noted for Drug Mules, who ingest condoms filled with drugs, then upon defecation, the drug filled condoms are retrieved.
Should the condom break while inside a person, death can occur.
In Russia, raw alcohol was smuggled into the labor camps, by filling condoms ingested, then once safely inside the camp, the smuggler would be held upside down, until the alcohol was fully drained from the condom.
If they broke, the death associated was horrible.
Geologists have used them to store soil samples that need to be kept free from moisture or contamination, as they are able to be carried in relative numbers, and with ease.