Sex. It is a mainstay of life and something we all want. What we don’t always want is another baby. This isn’t just a modern truth, but one that’s been around since men and women have gotten together. Obviously the earliest efforts consisted of withdrawal or periods of abstinence. Guess how effective those times were…not very. Women were kept pregnant for a large part of their childbearing years, assuming they survived that period.
– Around 3000 B.C., the first condoms appeared. They were made out of things like fish bladders. animal intestines or linen sheaths. Wish I knew the failure rate of those!
– A Greek gynecologist named Soranus told women to abstain from sex during their period. He thought that was when they were fertile. He also told them to hold their breath during intercourse and then to sneeze afterwards to prevent the sperm entering the womb. Wow! Epic failure on both counts!!!
– In 1500 a type of spermicide was created. It consisted of the linen sheaths soaked in a chemical solution.
– In 10th century Persia women were told to jump backwards 7 or 9 times to dislodge any sperm. Somehow those were magical numbers guaranteed to take care of it.
– (Get ready to laugh!) The Middle Ages brought a heightened level of science so women were then told to tie the testicles of a weasel to their thighs or around their necks during intercourse.
– In 1838, condoms and diaphragms were made from a type of rubber.
– In China, concubines drank an elixir made from lead and mercury to prevent pregnancy. Hmmm, possible side effect? Sterility, kidney failure, brain damage and death.
– 1873 brought us the Comstock Act which declared it illegal to advertise any kind of birth control and made it legal for items to be confiscated if ordered through the mail.
– Margaret Sanger opened the first birth control clinic in 1916. The following year she was declared guilty of running a public nuisance and sentenced to jail for 30 days. Once she got out, she re-opened and the cycle repeated itself many times.
– The modern day birth control pill got approval from the F.D.A. in 1960.
– It wasn’t until 1965 that the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to keep married couples from using birth control. What?!?