An Ode To The Condom

13th February is a special day. No, I am not talking about Kiss Day. It’s International Condom Day! I genuinely believe condoms to be one of humankind’s best inventions. Can you imagine a sexually active world without condoms??

 International Condom Day was established by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest non-profit HIV/AIDS organisation in the world, as a reminder of the importance of using condoms. Nothing ruins Valentine’s Day like an unplanned pregnancy or an STI given to you by your partner, am I right? Condoms not only help you avoid pregnancies but are also greatly effective in protecting you from many sexually transmitted diseases.

Source: Dribbble

Brief (not-boring) history of condoms

Condoms have stood the test of time like Anil Kapoor’s hotness. Condoms, as we know them today, were first manufactured in 1855 in the US and were made of rubber! But barrier methods as a form of protection have existed since long before. 

  • As per Greek mythology, in 3000 BC, King Minos of Crete used the skin from a goat’s bladder as a barrier. (This was for very personal reasons, however. Apparently, his semen was full of “serpents and scorpions”) 
  • Before the 15th century, condoms used in China and Japan only covered the head of the penis (called glans condoms) and were often made out of animal products – lamb intestines, tortoise shells, horns, to name a few. This was still better than the “condoms” used by Ancient Romans which were occasionally made out of the muscles of the enemies they had killed. 
  • Thankfully, the Egyptians improved the situation by using linen to make condoms. They even came in different colours! 
  • Finally in 1920, latex as raw material entered the scene and became an instant hit. Around this time, internal condoms were also invented and their modern version was released in 1993.
  • Newer and more effective condoms are being developed as we speak and hopefully, we’ll witness more revolutionary inventions! 

Much like their raw materials, the popularity of condoms has fluctuated over the centuries. It was influenced by many factors such as religious/cultural/political beliefs, class divides, STD epidemics/outbreaks, etc.

Source: Adobe Stock

When to use a condom

The usage of condoms is not just for birth control. A condom is one of the best, and till date the only method that protects you from sexually transmitted diseases/infections. This means that condoms are not just meant for vaginal penetrative intercourse, but also anal and oral. One needs to use them while sharing sex toys as well. And this applies to everyone regardless of their sex, gender, or sexual orientation. 

A few things to keep in mind – 

  • make sure the condom you’re using isn’t damaged or expired and put it on before you start having sex, not just before ejaculation. 
  • Ensure that the size of the condom you purchase is appropriate for you and know your ABCs of putting it on (Here is a quick tutorial). 
  • If you are using lubrication (first of all, good for you!), only use the water-based ones. Oil-based products are not friends with condoms and may cause them to break. 
  • One more thing – condoms are not just for penises. Barrier protection is necessary during cunnilingus (oral stimulation of the vulva) and anilingus (oral stimulation of the anus). Cue dental dams. 

You can learn more about them here.

Source: iStock

Condoms and its action against STIs

During the 1980s, the popularity of condoms declined across the world due to the rise in birth control pills.The HIV/AIDS pandemic has resulted in the deaths of 36.3 million people as of 2020, a significant fraction of whom are queer folks. AIDS continues to be a major cause of concern today, along with many other STIs –  chlamydia, HPV, gonorrhoea, to name a few. If a latex balloon can save you from this, it’s best to use it.

Source: Llyods Pharmacy


If you ever feel like ditching the condom, refer to this list of reasons why you shouldn’t – Valentine’s Day edition!

  • STIs are not fun gifts to give to your partner(s). Instead, how about safety and comfort? That’s much better.
  • Can you guess what else is a poor choice for a gift? An unexpected pregnancy. Babies seem a lot less cute when they turn up without notice.
  • Condoms have some of the lowest side-effects out of all contraceptives and are relatively much more comfortable than IUDs or implants, provided your partner(s) is/are non-allergic to latex. If they are – check out these non-latex options. Another great gift idea!
  • Condoms are much cheaper and more readily available as compared to other options. You can even make dental dams out of them (like this). What a nice DIY crafty group project. 
  • Many condoms have ribbed or dotted detailing and come in a variety of flavours. This can add to the pleasure. If you were looking to spice up V-Day, a paan-flavoured condom could be a great place to start! 

Lastly, here’s a very fun video that sums up everything – courtesy AHF. Have a happy and safe Valentine’s Day! 

Cover Illustration: Shutterstock


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