From Elephant Dung to Drinking Froth From a Camels Mouth: The Frightening History of Birth Control MethodsLori Garcia
I have an IUD set to “expire” this October. I can hardly believe it’s been almost five years since I debated the pros and cons of Mirena at my 6 week postpartum appointment.
For five years I haven’t given birth control a second thought. As my “baby” begins Kindergarten and I turn 36-years-old next week, I realize I need to make a decision regarding birth control pretty damn soon; stupid aging eggs.
The decision to jump back on the IUD bandwagon would be an easy one. I’d make an appointment, groom my nether regions, put my feet in stirrups, wince, pop a few ibuprofen and be done for another five years. Birth control is all too easy and for that I’m all too grateful.
How lucky we are to live in the age of modern birth control. Women for centuries and even decades before us haven’t had the safe options and ease of accessibility to birth control that we have. Let’s take a look at how far birth control methods have come – after the jump!
Let’s start with the pessary, or in layman’s terms, a thing inserted into the vagina that’s held in place by pelvic floor muscles.
The following pessaries were once thought to prevent pregnancy:
Ancient Egyptians used two pessary methods: one being dried crocodile dung, while the other included a mixture of acacia gum, dates, an unidentified plant, fiber, and honey
Ancient Greece used cat testicle pessaries
Medieval Europeans tried lemon-soaked sponges
Persian women in the 11th century inserted tar or elephant dung into their vaginas post intercourse
Moving on to condom-ish type contraptions and other stuffs applied to male genitalia as a form of birth control:
Ancient Egyptians applied onion juice to their penes (that’s plural for penis, who knew?) prior to intercourse
From the 12th to 14th centuries, Japan used condoms made from tortoise shell or horn
Imperial Rome used condoms made from goat bladder
Ladies, let’s just take a moment and console our collective vaginas. There, there little glitters; there, there. And to think today we spend time worrying about things like pH balance…
This brings us to what ladies should eat, drink, douche with, and wear to prevent unwanted pregnancy:
Medieval European women were told to drink sheep urine or rabbit blood
Elizabethan England recommended a numbing genital bath of cold water or a mixture of ginger and vinegar
Coca-Cola was once thought to be a most excellent spermicide by Americans in the 1950s and 60s, so why not douche with it? And Coke douche American women did. My vagina has no words.
Medieval Europeans thought women should wear weasel testicles on their thighs or the amputated foot of a live weasel around their necks
In the middle ages amulets made with hare anus were worn
Ancient Africa thought women who drank the froth from a camel’s mouth would protect themselves from pregnancy
OK, they’re all scary. Which birth control method freaked you out the most?
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