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Bizarre Birth Control: 13 Truly Strange Methods Couples Used In The Past

by Jess Catcher
Jess grew up in Oklahoma before moving to New York to become a writer. She has a cat named Agnes.

In modern times, we have come a long way in terms of health and science studies of the human body. Thankfully, we’ve long since moved on from the days of believing ailments were due to “bad humors” or that draining our blood with leeches was a cure for basically everything.

Still, mysteries about our well-being have persisted and even been exploited throughout history in seriously baffling ways. One area that seems to have really stumped folks over the centuries: birth control.

The common oral contraceptive women take on a daily basis today wasn’t around until 1960, but creative solutions were attempted for years before that. You might think of condoms and other prophylactics as a recent development, but you would be surprised by what materials our ancestors worked with to create similar products.

Take a look at these 13 bizarre — and sometimes dangerous —  methods from the past.

Let us know if we missed any crazy contraceptives you’ve heard about from back in the day, and don’t forget to SHARE with your friends!

Thumbnail Credit: Flickr

1. Avoiding The Moon

1. Avoiding The Moon

Natives of Greenland once believed that the moon was responsible for impregnating women, so they would therefore avoid looking at it and sleep belly-down after smudging a bit of their own spit on their abdomen to keep the sneaky lunar orb from getting to them at night.

2. Honey And Acacia Leaves

2. Honey And Acacia Leaves

Ancient Mesopotamia swore by inserting this sticky mixture before getting down as a means of blocking off the sperm.

3. Crocodile Droppings

3. Crocodile Droppings

This was also mixed with honey, but you have to wonder who the first Ancient Egyptian was that looked at crocodile feces and thought, “Hey, I bet that would be perfect for keeping my wife from getting pregnant again!”

4. Drinking Mercury

4. Drinking Mercury

Thousands of years ago, Chinese women who drank this after intercourse were right in that it prevented pregnancies, but the toxic liquid also came with nasty side effects like sterility, brain damage, and kidney failure.

5. Animal Intestines And Bladders

5. Animal Intestines And Bladders

Condoms have been in use as far back as 3000 BC, when ancient Greeks manufactured primitive versions from sheep, goat, and pig internal organs.

6. Lemon Diaphragms

6. Lemon Diaphragms

Couples from the 1700s were convinced slicing a lemon in half would do the trick, with the citrus acid supposedly acting as a spermicide.

7. Aristotle's Iffy Advice

7. Aristotle's Iffy Advice

He may have been a genius in his time, but the philosopher’s suggestion that a woman should rub her “womb” with cedar oil, incense, olive oil, and a dash of toxic lead definitely isn’t something your doctor would recommend today.

8. Jumping Up And Down

8. Jumping Up And Down

Another clever ancient Greek man named Soranus of Ephesus theorized that if a woman simply jumped vigorously post-coitus, she would be freed and cleared from bearing a child. He also recommended a nice, big sneeze.

9. Gold, Silver, And Ivory Diaphragms

9. Gold, Silver, And Ivory Diaphragms

In 300 AD, these devices resembled slightly large thimbles, and might have somewhat effectively stopped the sperm from reaching the uterus, but also provided some painful infections and toxic shock syndrome.

10. Onion Juice

10. Onion Juice

Women would chug a shot of this pungent juice as an oral contraceptive throughout France and Italy in the 1400s.

11. Soda Douching

11. Soda Douching

Studies have been done as recently as the 1980s to attempt to prove that the combination of sugar and carbonation would make effective spermicide following sexual intercourse, but results, of course, showed no such correlation.

12. Blacksmith Water

12. Blacksmith Water

While the lead in the water that resulted from a hard day of metal working did cause infertility, that was merely a side effect of poisoning yourself and possibly dying.

13. Wild Yams

13. Wild Yams

Mexican tribal women would consume the yams as an alternative to prophylactics, but they were actually sort of onto something. Studies found the veggies contained a plant substance chemically similar to hormones that, when combined with estrogen, helped develop the first oral contraceptive pill.

What’s the craziest method you’ve ever heard about from way back when? Let us know below and be sure to SHARE with your friends!