Birth Control Methods Throughout History By:Megan Owens

Birth Control Pill Pack 

Throughout history, there has been records of different methods to prevent pregnancies. The reasons for preventing pregnancy often varied: too poor to afford/provide for children, nobility, preventing slaves from getting pregnant, simply didn’t want to get pregnant, avoid pregnancies as a result of rape, and many more. Here are a few ways contraception methods have changed over time.
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FRUITS AND OILS AND FECES

Many ancient civilizations such as Greece, Rome, and Asian civilizations would use berries and other fruits, olive oils, and feces of elephants and other mammals to prevent pregnancy by spreading/inserting these different items on their vaginas.

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COITUS INTERRUPTUS

Or in other words the “pull out” method. As mentioned in the Bible, a method to prevent pregnancy would be to withdraw the penis from the vagina before ejaculation.

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ANIMAL INTESTINES, FISH BLADDERS, AND LINEN SHEATHS

In the medieval period people used the intestines of animals and fish bladders as forms of contraception to cover the inside of the vagina during sex to prevent the movement of sperm. In the 15th century with the introduction of the Catholic church, contraception methods were much less common and instead abstinence was preached. However, without contraception sexually transmitted infections were spread. Gabriele Falloppio invented the first condom-like contraception, a linen sheath that is tied off with a ribbon, primarily used for the prevention of STI’s.

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DOUCHING

Women in the 16th century would use vinegar and other harsh chemicals to wash their genitals, believing that it would kill the sperm, thus preventing pregnancy.

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RUBBER CONDOMS

In the 17th century, more discoveries about the female anatomy were made, resulting in a greater understanding of how to prevent pregnancy. At this time, condoms were being made of rubber.

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LATEX CONDOMS

In the 1920s rubber condoms evolved to latex condoms.

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THE PILL

In May of 1960, the first oral contraceptive was approved by the FDA, but received backlash from the people and was ruled illegal. In 1965, the Supreme Court ruled birth control pills legal for married couples.

Through the progression of contraception methods, a lot of the responsibility falls on the woman to protect themselves from being impregnated: taking the different fruits and oils, inserting/spreading different products and feces on the vagina, and taking a daily pill. Although for centuries it has been frowned upon for women to express themselves sexually or talk about experiences they’ve had, making the option of preventing pregnancy much more difficult, as it often had to be done behind closed doors or through illegal interactions. Whereas, men most often do not carry the burden of preventing pregnancy and are given the only option of condoms to aid in prevention of STIs and pregnancy. Hopefully, in the future we will see more methods of contraception that could be available to men, which may result in a greater understanding of reproduction and our rights to reproduction, and expand the talk of sexuality.

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