Condoms - So you think you know about condoms?

Try this short quiz:

When were condoms first used?
A: Over 15,000 years ago. There are cave paintings in France showing them in use.

Why were they first used?
A: Protection against 'evil spirits', insect bites and thorny bushes!

Who was the first person ever to make and sell condoms professionally?
A: Mrs. Phillips, brothel keeper, of the Strand, London, in the early 18th century.

Which doctor first demonstrated scientifically that condoms prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections?
A: Gabrielle Fallopius, in 1564. He noted that 'Linen sheaths prepared with herbs and salts prevented the spread of disease.' He was concerned with an epidemic of syphilis; today, condoms continue to offer protection against a wide range of infections, including HIV and AIDS, gonorrhoea and chlamydia.

When did condoms become known as 'rubbers'?
A: After 1844, when rubber became widely available. Rubber condoms were elastic, comfortable and more reliable than their predecessors, and therefore offered for the first time a real chance for people to limit family size, and paved the way for the emancipation of women.

What materials are used today to make condoms?
A: Mostly still latex (rubber). Femidom, the female condom is made from polyurethane, as is Durex 'Avanti'.

Why are condoms all the same size?
A: They're not! Condomania and 'Mates' come in a variety of sizes, widths and shapes- see their leaflets or website listed below. Durex 'Comfort' is shaped for an excellent fit. Check out Condomania's Clever Dick condom fitting Wizard or try have virtual-condom fitting from Durex.

Why don't they make condoms more fun- and easier to use?
A: Have you tried Durex 'Topaz' and 'Gold'? Specially designed to be put on in the dark, they're always the right way up. Durex, Mates and Condomania all make flavoured, coloured and textured condoms so there's no excuse not to have fun! Condomania also have a Purple Ronnie and South Park range Try a new style this weekend. Just be sure any condom you use carries the European quality mark (CE).

Experienced users might like to try gel-charging; pop a thumb-nail sized blob of WATER-BASED lubricating gel inside the end of a contoured or flared condom and enjoy the sensation!

If you go in for really vigorous activity, you may prefer the slightly stronger condoms: Mates 'Superstrong' , Durex 'Ultrastrong' and Condomania Extra Strong. For anal intercourse always use extra, water based lubricant.

Remember, vaseline, oils and fats (e.g. in ice-cream or chocolate) weaken latex almost instantly.

What about people with allergies; and vegans?
A: If you are sensitive to latex, try Durex Avanti. If spermicide allergy is the problem, use Durex Gossamer, which has non-spermicidal lubricant.

Vegan condoms in a variety of styles and flavours are made by Condomania and Condomi which available through Superdrug, Aldi Stores, FP Sales.

What should I do if I have a condom failure?
A: Get emergency contraception within 72 hours.

If you are experiencing frequent problems using condoms, ask for advice at your Health Centre. Please don't be embarrassed!

This page is very kindly sponsored by Condoms Direct

Further information




Buy condoms and lubricants in confidence online

This article published on
01 August 2005

Next review date 8/1/2013


Contraception and pregnancy
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