Versione Italiana

THE CONDOM

Luciano Schiazza M.D.
Dermatologist
cell 335.655.97.70
www.lucianoschiazza.it

The condom, also called rubber, capote or prophylactic  is the oldest barrier contraceptive which stops the introduction of sperm in the vagina, avoiding the possibility of  non wanted pregnancy.

When the anti-conceptive pill was invented, it seemed that the use of condoms would terminate. HIV and the re-occurrence of sexual transmitted diseases has given to condom a new life as a prevention device.

What is condom?

It is a thin latex (or other material) sheath to fit over the head of the penis, having a hood shape, which has to slip on the erected penis prior to insertion in the vagina.

The etymology is probably latin, from “condus” which means container, or from “condere” which means hide, protect, defend.

Condom is also the name of a French town nearby Gres, where butchers provided the intestines of lambs which were softened with almond oil prior to the sexual intercourse.

It is also said to be invented by a British physician of the English King Charles II, Quondam, “condom” would therefore be an abbreviation of the name.

History

Prophylactic is not a recent invention. Man has always tried to defend himself from sexual diseases and unwanted pregnancies. King Minox of the Greek island of Crete used a condom made of fish bladder.

The Egyptians (1350 BC) used  animal bladders and intestines previously soaked in oil. Also linen fabric was “fashionable”, but it was probably used as ornament, rather than protection.

The Chinese rolled thin rice paper sheets filled with oil around the penis, while the Japanese made condoms out of turtle skin and shells treated with alkaline solutions which made them soft. The Romans used goat bladders and sheep intestines.

In 100-200 AC in Les Combarelles caves, France, engravings show that condom prototypes were used.

In 1564 an Italian doctor, Gabriele Falloppio, in his book “The Morbo Gallico” describes a procedure to prevent syphilis, (a disease very common at the time): a linen sheath soaked in an antiseptic solution of herbs and salt.

In the following century condom is not only a method to prevent diseases, but also a  contraceptive method. In 1766 , for the first time in history, the use of condom is promoted through leaflets. Around 1750, king Louis XVI received a gift from the British Royals the “capote d’anglaise” (English overcoat). At the time these “exotic” accessories where lined with velvet and silk.

In the 800 lamb, goat intestine, or silk were used to produce prophylactics; they were fixed to the penis with a lace fixed on the side of the opening and they were reusable.

In 1839, thanks to Charles Goodyear (pneumatics), through the vulcanization process which makes rubber elastic, rubber condoms were manufactured.

At the beginning of 1900 mass production starts. Since then methods are unchanged, while rubber has been replaced with latex.

I cannot refrain to mention a bestseller book at the beginning of 2007 “La Cathedral del Mar” “The Sea Cathedral” by Idelfonso Falcones, set in the XIV century, page 257 recites: “The boys….had the knowledge to make a very thin leather wood that well oiled, was put on the penis prior to fornication. The certainty not to become pregnant, together with the youth of lovers and the darkness of the night, were an irresistible temptation for all the women who desired an anonymous adventure.”

How to use it

Prior to explain how to use the condom, some information on the correct use of the device.

Do not use the condom if:

THE CONDOM HAS TO BE PUT ON PRIOR TO THE INTRODUCTION OF THE PENIS IN THE VAGINA.

Expiry date has to be checked.

Prior to the sexual intercourse:

After sexual intercourses:

CONDOM MUST NOT TO BE USE MORE THAN ONE TIME!

In the case of another sexual intercourse:

Advantages and disadvantages of condoms

Vantages:

Disadvantages:

How to lubricate condoms

Sometimes, in particular conditions, such as vaginal dryness of the partner or in the case of anal intercourse, further lubrication might be necessary.

OIL BASED LUBRICANTS MUST BE AVOIDED!!!

No, no, no…

Dimensions

The following table has been taken from “Altro consumo”, magazine of the Italian consumers association. Measures are expressed in millimeters.

Brand / model

Thickness

Length

Width

 

AKUEL

Conform

0.069

187

54

Nudo

0.051

183

54

Nulla

0.069

183

53

Passepatout

0.068

185

53

Sicuro

0.076

180

54

Stimula

0.073

180

54

 

CONTROL

Forte

0.093

192

52

Nature

0.068

186

52

Più

0.068

190

50

Sensor

0.069

186

50

Sento

0.059

185

50

 

DUREX

Supersensitol

0.076

188

52

 

 

 

 

FARMAMED

0.068

189

50

 

HATU'

Contatto

0.053

188

50

Defensor

0.072

186

50

Jeans

0.078

182

50

Personal Anat.

0.080

185

46

Personal Natur.

0.072

181

50

Personal Plus 2

0.076

186

50

Personal Ritar.

0.076

181

52

Settebello

0.072

181

50

 

PRIMEX

Anatomico

0.075

189

53

Supersottile

0.051

188

54

 

2003

Progress Family                   

0.076

182

50

Type of condoms:

There are different kind of condoms:

How are they made?

As mentioned above, condoms are made from latex.

What’s latex? It is a liquid that flows from the rubber tree, Hevea brasiliensis (Euphorbiaceae ). The tree can reach the height of 20 mt. Originally from Amazonia, the tree is also cultivated in Indonesia, Malaysia and Sri Lanka in plantations of 200-250 trees per hectare with a production of 450 Kg per hectare.

Coconut shells are attached to the tree via a short sharp stick and the latex drips down into it . This usually produces latex up to three quarters of the shell (app. 30 ml).

latex

The production of condoms comes in four phases:

Compounding Compounding is a multi-step process in which ingredients that strengthen, preserve, and stabilize raw latex are mixed into the latex. Several unique compounds are used to make condoms.

Dipping After the latex is compounded, it is dispersed in a dipping tank. Shafts called mandrills are placed into the pool of latex. The shape of the mandrill creates the shape of the condom. After dipping, the mandrill passes through drying and curing ovens that help strengthen the condom.

Pinhole Testing After production, the condoms are tested. One by one, each and every condom is electronically tested for microscopic pinholes. In this test, condoms are placed over metal forms that are sent through an electrical field. The insulating characteristic of rubber allows this test to find microscopic holes and thin spots, through which electricity can pass and be detected. Pinhole testing ensures that all condoms are of the highest quality before wrapping.

Wrapping Condoms are lubricated and hermetically sealed.

Packaging Packaging is the final step in the production of commercially available condoms. Foil wrappers are collected and boxed by machine. The condoms are now ready to ship to customers around the world.

Quality standard:

The EEC norm dated June 14, 1993 states that condoms are equal to medicines. EN 600:1996 states that condoms not only must have contraceptive properties, but also protect from sexually transmissible diseases.

The minimum requirements are:

Non latex condoms

For those allergic to latex there are condoms made of a type of plastic, polyurethane (Duron®, Durex Avanti, Italy)). They are thinner than latex condoms, increase sensitivity and more agreeable in feel because they warm to  the body temperature.  They can be lubricated with oil and non oil bases lubricants.