Views & Reviews Past Caring

Searching for Dr Condom

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 06 August 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a1166
  1. Wendy Moore, freelance writer and author, London
  1. wendymoore{at}

    Although it is one of medicine’s longest surviving, most popular, and most effective advances, we know tantalisingly little about the origins of the condom.

    Throughout history the likes of Bartolomeo Eustachio, James Parkinson, and Thomas Hodgkin have fallen over each other in the scramble to attach their names to parts of our anatomy or our ailments. Yet the identity of Dr Condom—if indeed such a medic ever existed—has remained, appropriately, sheathed in mystery.

    Suggested references to early condoms in prehistoric cave paintings, ancient Egyptian tomb art, and Greek mythology probably owe more to researchers’ overly fertile imaginations than to hard evidence. Historians are on firmer ground with …

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