While regulatory requirements keep condom design on the straight and narrow, materials have continued to improve. Amid concerns that the proteins in latex could trigger an allergic reaction in some uncomfortable places, LifeStyles and others started striving for an alternative that was easier on the body. It took ten years of R & D followed by some large governmental hoops to get it to market, but just a couple of years ago LifeStyles released their condom made from polyisoprene, a synthetic latex. Their so-called Skyn line was developed to be even softer than the latex originals.


Finally, 300 years after fish bladders entered our sex lives, we're able to reach for our nightstands confidently, knowing that what we put on was not once alive.

Rachel Swaby is a freelance writer living in San Francisco.

Drawing Board is where we explore the amazing origins of everyday objects. Know an interesting story? Tip us off at drawingboard@gizmodo.com with the subject line: "Idea for drawing board," and we'll investigate. In fact that's where this story idea came from. Thanks, Chris Johnson!


Archival image from patent #824634

Image collage: Shutterstock/wasa_d/Migel/lineartestpilot