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

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

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

Yep, they were inserted as a means to block the sperm reaching the uterus.
Alxeypnferov / Getty Images

Yep, they were inserted as a means to block the sperm reaching the uterus.

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

NBC

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it wasn't thought to be super effective even at the time.

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

Disney

"So that the seed may not be hurled too deep into the cavity of the uterus."

4. The first IUDs were made of silkworm gut.

Science Museum / Via commons.wikimedia.org

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

Condoms have been around in some form or other for ages.
commons.wikimedia.org

Condoms have been around in some form or other for ages.

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

Casarsaguru / Getty Images, Chris6 / Getty Images

See also: ones made from mule uteruses.

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.

Fox

Presumably, a lot of people ended up pregnant.

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

The fermented acacia seeds may have acted as a spermicide.
CSIRO Science / Via commons.wikimedia.org

The fermented acacia seeds may have acted as a spermicide.

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

This ancient version of spermicide was pounded up and then dipped in plant slime.
commons.wikimedia.org

This ancient version of spermicide was pounded up and then dipped in plant slime.

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

It was also an aphrodisiac and a way of treating anal growths. The more you know...
commons.wikimedia.org

It was also an aphrodisiac and a way of treating anal growths. The more you know...

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

Look at that cute weasel. Imagine wanting to wear its testicles around your leg.
Wildpix645 / Getty Images

Look at that cute weasel. Imagine wanting to wear its testicles around your leg.

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

That little domed bit was to help stop it from getting lost in the uterus.
wellcome.ac.uk / commons.wikimedia.org

That little domed bit was to help stop it from getting lost in the uterus.

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.

The flat end would go against the vaginal walls, and it sounds a little...uncomfortable. It lost popularity with the introduction of the IUD.
Science Museum / Via commons.wikimedia.org

The flat end would go against the vaginal walls, and it sounds a little...uncomfortable. It lost popularity with the introduction of the IUD.

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.

As the person conducting the research proving this didn't work told New Scientist, sperm "can make it into the cervical canal, out of reach of any douching solution, in seconds". So don't try this at home.
Flickr: remino

As the person conducting the research proving this didn't work told New Scientist, sperm "can make it into the cervical canal, out of reach of any douching solution, in seconds". So don't try this at home.