Probably the method of prevention which has come into widest use is the employment of the "condum," or sheath, for the penis during the sexual act. This article is made usually of goldbeater's skin, or rubber, exceedingly thin, and while fairly efficacious in preventing impregnation, as well as infection, is yet, as a witty lady once remarked, "a cobweb against danger and a cuirass against pleasure," and so apt to irritate the delicate and sensitive mucous membrane of the vagina as to be a source of considerable danger to the woman. I have known cases where very stubborn ulcers of the mouth of the womb, and the vagina, have resulted from its use—stub-bom, possibly, because the source of irritation was not withdrawn; and beside, the pleasure derivable from such an intercourse it lacks every element of that psychical joy and fruition the naked congress possesses; and, to use a homely illustration, is a good bit like going in swimming with your clothes on.
As far as safety to the woman is concerned, however, both as to conception and communicable disease, the condum has possibly fewer objections than almost any other of the habitual appliances. The soreness from friction, so often complained of by the male, might be entirely obviated if people knew better how to use such things, remembering that the sheath should not be put on at the commencement of the intercourse, but after the penis has been thoroughly coated with the vaginal mucus, thus lubricating the inner surface of the sheath, preventing harsh and dry friction, and adding materially to the comfort and pleasure of the connection. If this rule were followed—barring the necessary "accidents," caused by "explosions" and " slippings-off "—the use of the condom would be open to few objections except from a moral standpoint.
The slipping off recalls to my mind a story told me by a patient, a young man, who, after prolonged solicitation, at last got a " nice young lady " to consent to the act on condition, only, that he would use "one of those rubber bags she had heard of." Of course he joyfully consented, and in the course of the connection, the instrument slipping off, he reached his finger in to recover it, and succeeded, to his infinite disgust, in fishing out no fewer than six others.