Some of the Oddest Birth Control Methods in Our History


There have been some strange things used to try to prevent pregnancy over the course of history. A recent article in the Psychology of Human Sexuality discusses what they found to be the oddest things used. Where these people desperate or just using what they had at the time? Either way it makes me grateful I live in modern times.
Some of the strangest things used for birth control include:
• Crocodile Dung. Yes, that is a nice way of saying crocodile poop. Using crocodile dung actually goes back to the ancient Egyptians. Women would mold a diaphragm shaped object out of the poop to cover the cervix. They would insert it and also insert honey into their vaginas to block the passage of sperm. That part makes sense. I can’t see sperm being strong enough to swim through thick honey. We have no way of knowing if it worked but it was definitely a method they used.
• Lysol Disinfectant. Lysol was once marketed as a feminine hygiene product. You can still see the advertisements from the 1920’s. Women would douche with a diluted Lysol solution, sometimes at the direction of their doctors. Women thought this would cover vaginal odors and prevent pregnancy.
• Beaver testicles: I don’t think this is where they show “Leave it to Beaver” got its name but ingesting beaver testicles was a birth control method of choice for women in Canada. They brewed a tea with beaver testicles and later when liquor was available they drank a mixture of grain alcohol and dried beaver testicles. Why they thought this would prevent pregnancy is unknown.
• Squat and Sneeze. Thought to expel sperm from the body, women were actually instructed by their doctors to hold their breath during sex and afterward to squat and sneeze as forcefully as they could. Since we now know how fast sperm actually swim we know the chances of this working are slim to none.
• Coca-Cola. Women using Coke to douche with as a method of pregnancy prevention. This one was actually in the New England Journal of Medicine as recently as 1985. An article published in the journal quoted a researcher who said this actually works. A subsequent study showed that Coke and Pepsi are not reliable spermicide. Further they found that putting Coke or Pepsi in the vagina could lead to vaginal infections.
The common theme is that since the beginning of time women have been looking for ways to control their fertility. Contraceptive research continues and 100 years from now what will they think of current methods?


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