Whatever your feelings about birth control, contraception has actually been around for a really long time. Even back in the bygone BC days, women came up with forms of birth control – and they were weird. After coming across a couple of examples, I just couldn't pass up the chance to share them with y'all. I mean, it's history, you know – we're totally going to learn something new together! Because I've always been interested in science and medical history especially, this really appeals to me. I hope you, too, will enjoy taking a look at some extremely weird contraception techniques from back in the day.
1. Strychnine, Arsenic, and Mercury
You can tell, right way, that this is not going to end well. This should not only be at the top of the list of weird contraception techniques from back in the day; it should be at the top of the deadliest as well. Popularized in ancient China, this method was evidently used by, ah, women of the night, who drank the poisonous concoction, because it actually made pregnancy impossible. Typically, however, it also made sanity impossible. And living, that wasn't usually possible either. But hey, that was how they rolled in 51 BC.
2. Animal Bits
I guess it sort of makes since that women could use the, you know, the testicles from animals like weasels and beavers, to keep from getting pregnant. Not so surprisingly, this method was used during the Dark Ages. Women had to get some weasel testicles – severed, of course – and tie them to their inner thighs. I'm thinking it prevented pregnancy by scaring men away because who wants to hook up with a girl who has a pair of severed cajones attached to her leg? Later, fur trappers in Canada popularized the use of beaver balls in a kind of prevention potion. So, women had to drink an elixer containing testicles from a beaver. Uh. It didn't work.
3. Goat Bladders
Keeping with the animal trend, the use of goat bladders stretches all the way back to 150 AD. The bladder was actually a precursor to the modern day female condom. The King of Crete, Minos, invented it. Why? Because according to legend, the King suffered from a curse that made his semen turn into snakes and scorpions. Um, ouch? So, he used the goat's bladder condom to keep his lady friends safe! That's a real man, there.
There's a reason Coke is one of the most popular soft drinks, you know. Back in the 1950s, rumors began going around that the soft drink made an excellent spermicide. After a while, Pepsi became known for the same thing, as well as a drink popular in Malta called Krest Bitter Lemon. Not so surprisingly, it didn't really catch on. The thing is, these drinks will render sperm immobile, but they aren't exactly full proof, plus they can be hazardous to the health of your delicate lady parts. All that fizzing … ow!
5. Opium Diaphragm
You know … wow. This is entirely real. I think the name alone makes it clear why this is considered one of the weird contraception techniques from back in the day. Sumatrans from long, long ago used this method to prevent impregnation – or, rather, they tried to. There's no real proof that it worked, and I mean … I don't think I could even consider putting opium in, uh, such a special place.
6. Leather Condoms
I'm surprised this hasn't made a comeback, just because I bet a lot of fashionistas and designers might consider this a form of haute couture contraception. The people in the 1400s were certainly fond of it. Up to that point, efforts to create effective condoms had been relegated to animal intestines and entrails. Unfortunately, it appears that the innards weren't strong enough to prevent a rash of syphilis outbreaks. As such, the Dutch began bringing in extremely fine leather from Japan, to see if it wouldn't do better.
You read that correctly. I don't know how to pretty it up and make it look better. This is one of the oldest contraception methods; it dates back to 1500 BC and began in ancient Egypt. Several valid and authenticated documents from that time list a number of recipes for contraception, including this one. It includes crocodile poo, mixed into honey and sour milk. Evidently, it actually did worked. It was, in fact, versatile, and prevented certain diseases as well.
I really wonder whether or not these weird contraception techniques from back in the day actually worked. Some of them apparently did the job for many women, but you have to wonder about the rest of them. How many women had to try a certain method before finding out that it didn't work -- or hurt, or gave them amnesia, or caused death? Still, it's gratifying to know we've come such a long way – because, again, whatever your opinion on the subject, you've got to be grateful that women don't have to rely on crocodile poo anymore, you know? Which of these did you find the strangest?
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