This prophylactic’s history shows that even the ancient soldier wore a helmet
Condoms: My, how the times have changed.
It once was that condoms were made of oiled silk paper, linen sheaths, leather or thin, hollow horn. Condoms are now made of latex or polyurethane and come to us in individually wrapped packages.
So what’s the big deal? Well, with the rise of sexually transmitted diseases in this country and amongst college students especially, condoms have become almost a necessity. In 2006, condom sales reached 9 billion worldwide. Yes, that’s billion with a “B.”
The first recorded use of condoms dates back to roughly 1000 B.C. As the years progressed, so did the idea of sexually transmitted diseases. Latex was introduced in 1912, which made condoms affordable and disposable. In the past, they were used and re-used until they crumbled. As the number of cases of syphilis kept growing, condoms were transformed yet again to fit and protect everyone.
As AIDS grew in the 1980s, the use and promotion spread even more. A marketing campaign began advertising condoms on TV and in print. This was a major turning point in the history of condoms because what once was seen as taboo was now saving lives and protecting people from disease and unwanted pregnancies.
“A condom is one of the most effective forms of birth control, and it protects against sexual infections,” said Peter Vielehr, a junior sociology and women’s studies major. “One-fourth of people in their life will contract an STD, and 50-70 percent of sexually active people will have the human papillomavirus in their lifetime.”
Vielehr works for Wardenburg’s Sex and Health Education Program and provides educational information to CU students about contraceptives and sexually transmitted infections. He said people must put condoms on properly, among other things to make them effective.
He said it is important to check the expiration date make sure the packaging around the condom is not torn or punctured because that could lead to a faulty product.
Sexual Health Education Program Coordinator Jonna Fleming wrote in an e-mail response, “Do not use anything with oil around a latex condom. Any type of oil – even lotion can break down the latex.” Fleming also said to use a condom for the entire sex act – not just before orgasm.
Using a condom correctly and finding one that fits are very important to a person’s sexual health. If a condom fits properly, it will be more effective for both partners and lower the risk of disease.
For some people who are allergic to latex, a new condom is on the market that is made of polyurethane. Polyurethane is a type of plastic that is thinner than latex condoms and slightly more expensive, but it still provides the same results.
If the cost of condoms is keeping some people away from using them, both kinds are given out for free at the Sexual Health Office in Wardenburg, the Women’s Resource Center at the UMC and for residents in the resident halls by some resident advisers.
Resident adviser Alex Leong, a junior integrative physiology major, said his main concern is making sure people have the option available to them.
“It is important to use condoms, but it is their decision. I’m just here to help,” Leong said.
Leong said many of his residents come to him and ask for condoms — and that the number has been rising since he began his job in the fall 2005.
But what to do if a condom breaks? There are ways to prevent this. If partners use lube before intercourse, it will create less friction so the condom will not break as easily.
It is also important to remember to never wear two condoms at the same time. This will actually increase the rate of breakage.
If a condom does break, however, partners should find out about emergency contraception and get tested for infections, Fleming said.
Plan B, otherwise known as the “morning-after pill,” is now available without a prescription at local pharmacies for women 18 and older. It must be taken within 72 hours after sex to be effective.
Wardenburg Health Center also provides free HIV testing to all CU students, regardless of health insurance. For other common STDs, testing is available at Wardenburg, for out-of-pocket fees.
For further information on condoms and sexual health please visit
Contact Campus Press staff writer Elizabeth Stortroen at email@example.com.