Skip To Content

    14 Historical Contraception Facts That'll Make You Say "Wait, What?"

    We've come a long way from using crocodile poop as spermicide.

    1. Empty halves of pomegranates were used in ancient Greece as a makeshift way to block semen from entering the uterus.

    2. In ancient Rome, women were advised to squat, sneeze, and then wash out their vagina after sex to avoid pregnancy.

    3. Or alternatively, women could hold their breath just before their partner ejaculated.

    4. The first IUDs were made of silkworm gut.

    5. Condoms used to be made out of animal guts, and then linen, before rubber ones were mass produced in 1843.

    6. Women would wear amulets, which were thought to prevent pregnancy. They were made with things like asparagus or sometimes donkey dung.

    7. For centuries, the rhythm method (where you avoid sex on days you're most fertile) actually meant avoiding sex on the days immediately after your period, i.e. the days you're not very fertile at all.

    8. In ancient Egypt, tampons made with ground acacia seeds were inserted into the vagina and used as contraception.

    9. Speaking of inserting things into one's vagina, in ancient Egypt they also used crocodile dung.

    10. The Romans used a plant called silphium for everything, including as a form of birth control by ingesting it.

    11. Strapping weasel testicles to your leg was another way people thought you could prevent pregnancy.

    12. Stem pessaries were an early form of IUD in the early 20th century, and were made of bone and catgut.

    13. IUCs (intracervical devices) were inserted into the cervix after conception during the late 1800s and early 1900s, to stop the sperm reaching the embryo.

    14. And finally, as recently as the 1950s and 60s, douching with cola was used by some people as a method of contraception, because they thought the acidity could kill sperm.