This week is “National Condom Week,” an advocacy effort to promote healthy sexual habits. So what better time to learn about the history of one of our favorite contraceptive methods?
This video from the American Sexual Health Association is full of little-known facts: Condoms date back to ancient Egypt, where people used linen sheaths to try to protect themselves from disease and unintended pregnancy. In the 1850s, they were “thick as a bicycle tire and smelled like sulfur.” Sounds inviting, right? And as late as the early 1900s, before they began to be regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, up to 75 percent of condoms in the United States were unsafe.
These days, condoms are 98 percent effective when used consistently and correctly. But while they’ve clearly come along way, there is still some resistance to their use. This contributes to the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) as well as result in unintended pregnancies. Despite wide availability of condoms, the U.S. has the highest rate of STIs in the developed world. And globally, it’s estimated that just five percent of men use condoms. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently launched a campaign to “build a better condom,” with an award of up to $ 1 million in funding to make the winning idea a reality.
In the meantime, be glad you don’t live in the 1850s, and be sure to protect yourself!
Got a video we just have to see? Leave your suggestions in the comments!