Contraception celebration: A history of sex

Condoms are one popular contraceptive, but historically people have used many others.

Happy World Contraception Day! In honor of this annual public health campaign, Metro has commissioned  Professor Robert Jutte — chief historian of medicine at Stuttgart’s Robert Bosch Foundation and author of the book “Contraception: A History” — to help put modern birth control into a historical context.

Cold-blooded

In ancient Egypt, crocodile dung was inserted into the vagina, Jutte explains.
   
“Some of the ingredients change the pH value in the vagina to create a bad environment for the sperm.”

‘Nonsense’ cures
Believe it or not, people did wear amulets like they do talismans as a means of contraception.
   
“These amulets contained ingredients we would describe as complete nonsense. One example: Take the seeds from a henbane plant, mix them with milk from a she-ass, then wrap in the skin of a hare.”

Old wives’ tales
“I once read in a British opinion poll that some women thought that by simply closing your eyes you can avoid conception.”
   
“Another old lady recipe was washing after intercourse. This method doesn’t really work; bidets are now for personal hygiene, but they were originally used as a contraceptive.”

Condom cons
The first undisputed description of the condom — by 16th-century Italian physician Gabriele          Falloppio — said it was made of cloth.
   
And you thought rug burn on the knees hurt.

Oldie but goodie

“Coitus interruptus” — the withdrawal method — is the oldest contraceptive at more than 10,000-years old, according to Jutte, and there’s a reason for that.
   
“It still works — if you are careful, that is; it’s very easy to use, you don’t need a lot of instructions. It’s ready, so to speak, in the heat of the affair.”


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