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Birth control these days is mostly done by the pill and condoms, while some go with uterine-Implanted devices and injections. The condom has been the most universal method of preventing conception over the past century, with Charles Goodyear vulcanizing rubber in 1839 and his company producing the first latex condom 90 years later. Before that, people had to rely on other methods, and there was probably a lot of finger-crossing and sweaty foreheads. Here are 25 of those ancient methods of birth control. Stay with us to the end for some strange rituals.
1. Animal parts were popular back in ancient times, with bladders of goats being used by King Minos of Crete, son of Zeus and Europa. In Asia, glans, lamb intestines and the tortoise shell were used.
2. In the mid-1700s, Europeans used sausage skins. Jules Schmid, who created Sheik and Ramses condoms, was once a sausage-maker who made condoms out of lamb guts in the 1880s.
3. In the time period around 1000 B.C., Egyptians were believed to use linen sheaths to protect against conception and disease.
4. European males in the 16th century would soak linen sheaths in a chemical and let them dry before putting them over the head of the penis and tying them on with a ribbon.
5. Before common contraceptives, some women would use pomegranate pulp, olive oil, ginger or tobacco juice as a topical or suppository method in or around their vaginas to prevent conception.
6. A 20-meter long scroll was found between the legs of a mummy. On it was written that women around 1550 B.C. often used a pessary, or soluable block, to place in their vaginas and act as a birth control device. It would sometimes be soaked in the milk of a donkey.
7. Some 4,000 years ago, Egyptian women would stuff their vaginas with crocodile dung and honey to prevent pregnancies. Elephant dung was used in India. The acidic properties of the dung would act as an effective spermicide.
8. Acacia gum, on top of the crocodile dung, would also be used and would be more mentally bearable for the women inserting it into their vaginas. It is even used in spermicide products today.
9. In the 1830s, Dr. Charles Knowlton devised a method of syringe douching with vinegar, zinc sulfite and liquid chloride to stop pregnancies. Syringes back then were made of horn, bone or pewter.
10. In the mid-19th century, certain herbs were used to prevent pregnancies. Those consumable herbs included pennyroyal, rue, mistletoe, hellebore, Queen Anne’s lace, foxglove, ergot, bloodroot and mint plants. They would be steeped in hot water or dissolved in alcohol before consumption. However, some of those herbs had a slightly rough side-effect – they were poisonous.
11. But lethal seemed to be the way to go for some early physicians in wanting to prevent pregnancies. They would have their female patients drink some poisonous concoctions to mess up their reproductive systems. Those poisons would include arsenic, mercury and strychnine, and they would be administered in specific doses to prevent killing the woman.
12. In the second century, Greek physicians would have women drink the water that blacksmiths used to cool their metals in order to prevent them from getting pregnant.
13. The Chinese physicians in 900 B.C. would have their female patients swallow 16 tadpoles fried in quicksilver, or mercury, right after sex to stop pregnancies. The result often would be that the woman would never be able to conceive a child.
14. Eating acidic fruits and vegetables often did the trick for women in some nations in the early days. Mashed pomegranate mixed with rock salt and alum worked for Arabians. Italians tried drinking raw onion juice in the 1400s. And eating cabbage right after sex was how the French rolled in 1600.
15. Women used to insert soft wool soaked in vinegar or lemon juice into their vaginas. They would also insert half a lemon into their vaginas to act as a cervical cap.
16. Ancient Greeks used the Silphium plant in halting pregnancies. It had other medicinal purposes but was mainly used as birth control. It was so popular that it is no longer in existence.
17. In the 1800s, a pessary of cocoa butter was used, as well as the chemical quinine. After melting to body temperature, it would create an impenetrable barrier to the uterus.
18. Way, way back in 400 B.C., a device very similar to today’s IUD was used. It was a hollow tube filled with mutton fat and was inserted into the woman’s womb to prevent pregnancy.
19. Small rocks were inserted into women’s vaginas by New Zealanders in early times to stop a woman from getting pregnant. We doubt walking was much fun for them back then. Persians in the Ninth century would insert a rod dipped in ginger to achieve the result.
20. And now, here are some very interesting – if not completely bizarre – rituals that those in ancient times incorporated in their quest to prevent pregnancies. Greek physician Soranus – which is a bizarre name in itself – published a gynecology book that would encourage women to hold her breath, squat down and sneeze just after sex. Might wanna have some pepper handy for that one.
21. The Greeks used to believe a woman’s uterus was a separate entity from her body. We guess like something you could keep on your mantel and take it down when you need it. Anyway, if they wanted to have a child, they believed if they inserted something that was sweet-smelling into the vagina, it would attract the sperm. If they did NOT want to have a child, they would insert into their vagina something that smelled repulsive to have the sperm steer clear.
22. Women wore amulets and necklaces in ancient Rome to control their fertility. Along with that, they would do simple things, like spitting into a frog’s mouth three times after sex or like wearing a leather pouch filled with a cat’s liver on their left foot. Sounds perfectly reasonable, huh?
23. In some of the early writings by Hippocrates and Dioscorides, it was encouraged for women to use violent movements right after sex to void pregnancies. Remember the Seinfeld Show? The Elaine dance comes to mind.
24. In 10th century Persia, women wanting to stop a pregnancy were advised to jump backwards either seven or nine times. The numbers 7 and 9 were believed to hold magical influences in stopping pregnancies.
25. And finally, number 25. Everything mentioned to this point has focused on women preventing pregnancies, but there were also a few ways in ancient times for men to accomplish this. One method was for men to wash their genitals in vinegar before having sex. Another method was for men to drink the pulverized testicles of a donkey or other infertile animal like a raw egg to cause sterility. (Please excuse me while a vomit a little…. Bleahhhh)