Safe Sex

6 Facts About The Past, Present, And Future Of Condoms

November 2, 2014 by Justin Lehmiller


Believe it or not, human beings have been making and using condoms for thousands of years. Despite how long they’ve been around, condoms remain imperfect and continue to be misused. Below, we will take a look at what condoms used to be like, how they are viewed and utilized today, and where condoms are headed in the future.

1.) In the not-too-distant past, animal intestines were the most popular material used for making condoms. Some condoms are still made from this today (e.g., Naturalamb), but they have largely fallen out of favor because they are costlier to produce than contemporary materials, such as latex, which is what most condoms today are made from. Also, while they may be effective at preventing pregnancy, animal membranes are thought to be too porous to serve as an effective barrier to most sexually transmitted infections, which is another reason this material is not more widely used. Learn more about the history of condoms by watching this video.

2.) Today, condom use is common, but maybe not quite as common as you might think. A national U.S. survey in which participants were asked about their condom use patterns during their last 10 vaginal and anal intercourse events revealed the following: overall usage rates were 25% for men and 22% for women during vaginal sex, while they were 26% for men and 13% for women during anal sex. That said, condom use rates tended to be higher for some groups, including adolescents and those who were unmarried.

3.) Although modern condoms are sometimes criticized and avoided because they are thought to make sex less enjoyable, research finds that condoms don’t necessarily have to kill the mood. In fact, a large study comparing male and female condom users to non-users revealed no differences between the groups in ratings of sexual pleasure and likelihood of reaching orgasm.

4.) Research finds that people overestimate the effectiveness of condoms at preventing pregnancy. With typical use, nearly 1 in 5 women who use condoms as their only form of birth control will get pregnant over the course of a year. Using multiple methods of birth control (e.g., condoms plus the pill) can provide enhanced protection against unintended pregnancy.

5.) A big part of the reason condoms aren’t as effective as people think they are is because people make a lot of errors in usage. For instance, studies of college students find that as many as 38% report having waited until part way through intercourse to put a condom on, while as many as 14% report having taken a condom off before intercourse was over. Learn more about other common condom use mistakes in this infographic.

6.) A revolutionary new condom could be on the market as soon as 2015: the Origami condom. This represents the first major redesign of the male condom in about a century. The goal is to produce a condom that is easier and more pleasurable to use. There will be different versions of this condom optimized for different forms of sexual activity too, including both vaginal and anal intercourse. Learn more about the Origami condom and watch a video demonstrating how it works here.

Want to learn more about Sex and Psychology ? Click here for previous articles or follow the blog on Facebook (, Twitter (@JustinLehmiller), or Reddit ( to receive updates.

Image Credit: 123RF

Post Featured Image
Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

Read full bio >