Condoms often get a bad rap. People complain that they don't feel as good, or that it kills the mood to stop and put one on. This can actually be a public health issue, since condoms are so important to preventing sexually transmitted infections and HIV.
But this video from the brave souls at io9 will make you want to kiss the ground at your local pharmacy and thank the heavens that modern condoms even exist. Katharine Trendacosta and Diane Kelly actually went through the week-long, very smelly-looking process of turning a piece of sheep's intestine into a usable condom:
You think going to the corner store is inconvenient? Try painstakingly scraping the mucous membranes off a piece of animal innards and soaking it for days in lye and sulphur! Hate fumbling around in your dresser drawer to try to find your last rubber? Victorians used to have to reconstitute their shriveled, rock-hard hunk of sheep's gut in water before use, and then tie a ribbon around it to keep it from falling off. (Hey, at least it's reusable.)
The end result, however, is a lot less disgusting-looking and a lot more like a modern condom than you'd expect. No wonder rich Victorian men spent a day's wages on the thing so they could visit brothels in relative peace.
Also no wonder that guys had it easier on the contraceptive front even before latex was invented in 1920. The
ram-rod sheep-intestine condom is actually one of the least horrifying examples of how birth control used to work before the modern era. As this nightmare-inducing WebMD slideshow on the "History of Birth Control" shows, women have tried to prevent pregnancy by drinking mercury (both not effective and horribly poisonous), douching with Lysol (the company actually advertised it as a genital disinfectant!), and even using elephant poop as a spermicide (which might actually have worked because of its high acidity).