Condoms may not be the sexiest form of birth control out there, but there's a reason why they're probably the most common - and longest standing - contraception: They're simple, they're safe, they're cheap and they work. So, while all kinds of new and interesting forms of contraception continue to emerge, we think the condom deserves a little recognition for continuing to be a dependable, accessible go-to for safer sex. Here are 20 fascinating facts about condoms that you may not know.
20 Fascinating Facts about Condoms
- When it comes to HIV, condoms make sex 10,000 times safer than not using a condom.
- Condoms have been around for thousands of years. The earliest known depiction of one is in a painting on a cave wall in France that's estimated to be 12,000-15,000 years old.
- When condoms are applied correctly and used consistently, they are 98% effective against pregnancy.
- Only 35% of American high school students are taught how to apply a condom correctly in health class.
- Most condom failure occurs as a result of user error, including putting a condom on upside down and then turning it over, taking the condom off too soon, putting a condom on too late, opening the package with a sharp object or using an oil-based lubricant.
- Condoms are a strictly regulated Class II Medical Device that must meet FDA standards. They are tested electronically for holes and are inflated to test strength.
- According to LELO's Global Sex Survey, 86% of people have not changed their preferred brand of condoms in the last year.
- Many people do not like condoms. Only about 5% of males use condoms worldwide.
- There has been very little innovation in condoms over the years. The rolled latex condom was introduced in the 1920s; only minor changes have been made to it since.
- 45% of men and 63% of women who have sex with "a new acquaintance" report not using a condom.
- The first condoms were made from the intestinal linings of animals. Sausage makers in Europe often sold condoms as a side business.
- Condoms have a shelf life of about four years when stored in a cool, dry place.
- Women purchase about 40% of condoms sold in the United States.
- Some condoms come coated in spermicide called nonoxynol-9. These are not recommended for STI prevention because it can irritate delicate tissues, increasing the risk of sexually transmitted diseases.
- The average condom can hold as much as a gallon of liquid.
- The Danish word for condom is svangerskabsforebyggendemiddel. Yes, really. Thankfully, the more common name is gummimand, which translates as "rubber man."
- The world's largest condom is 260 feet tall, 360 feet around.
- Using a condom can help maintain the vagina's natural bacterial flora, reducing itching and minor infections.
- The world's largest condom maker is Karex Industries, which is headquartered in Malaysia.
Anna Lynn is an editor and regular contributor to Kinkly.com. She started out writing about personal finance and later moved on to sex. She soon discovered that the two topics have a lot in common. The way we feel about money and sex has a lot to do with what we were brought up to believe, what society expects from us and the ways in which we unconsciously invest so much ego in how we perform (or appear to perform) when it comes to one, the other or both.