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.
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.”
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.”
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.”