10 Birth Control Practices We’re Really Glad Don’t Exist Anymore

Apparently there were many crazy things ladies used to do to prevent themselves from getting knocked up before condoms and the pill were available at the corner drug stores. Thanks to this Newsweek slide show, “The Evolution of Birth Control,” I learned a thing or two about how ladies used to ward off a visit from the stork. After the jump, the top 10 birth control practices that I’m thrilled I never have to try.

  1. Greek philosopher Aristotle suggested that women anoint themselves with makeshift spermicides such as with olive oil, cedar oil, lead oil, or frankincense oil. Now we know that turning your vagina into an incense burner does nothing to prevent pregnancy.
  2. The ancient Greeks tried to prevent conception by squatting after sex and pounding on the abdomen. Fun!
  3. Ancient Egyptians used sea sponges drenched in lemon juice and vinegar to keep sperm at bay. That sounds like what I use to clean my bathroom.
  4. Beginning in Europe in the 15th Century, someone—a million dollars says it was a man—thought it would be an awesome idea to prevent pregnancy by making the lady parts really difficult to get into. Enter the oh-so uncomfortable chastity belt. [Insert blood curdling scream.]
  5. Giacomo Girolamo Cassanova, the first real playa, used the empty rind of half a lemon to prevent the spread of his seed. Lemonade!
  6. In 1873, Congress passed an act that would allow people to be fined $50 and thrown in jail for using any drug or medicinal article for contraception. Good idea! That’ll stop people!
  7. In the 1920s, women were using a crude kind of diaphragm called the cervical cap (pictured above). Wait that goes in the vagina and not on your head?
  8. The Great Depression was a really depressing time for birth control. All I can say is that I would never put a “Lysol douche” anywhere near the vicinity of my vaj. But ladies who did often scalded their vaginas.
  9. Another popular birth control method in the 1930s was the stem pessary that looks eerily like a corkscrew. Noooo!
  10. Even though they look fancy, the Dalkon Shield, a kind of IUD, caused pelvic inflammatory disease in many women proving once and for all that the cervix should not wear jewelry. [Newsweek]
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