Wednesday, 26 November 2014

5 Weird Things That People Used to Think Were Contraceptives

 There is this idea that students are somewhat promiscuous at best and that we open ourselves up to a whole host of risks. We are extremely lucky to live in a modern world where sexual health is considered really important and there are plenty of helpful tips and support at our fingertips.

So although there is no excuse for ignorance these days, but what about before?

In the past people have used weird and, potentially dangerous things, to prevent pregnancy.

Here are the top 5:
  1. Credit:
    Squat and sneeze – no, this is not a gym workout. It was once considered to be a post-sex position to clear the body of sexual fluids. In Ancient Greece, doctors recommended that women squat immediately after sex and try to do the biggest sneeze possible in order to rid their bodies of semen and prevent pregnancy. Not surprisingly, it wasn’t a success.
  2. Beaver testicles – women in Ancient China believed that drinking tea made from dried beaver testicles would work as a contraceptive. There is no medical explanation as to why they believed this and there is no evidence to suggest it was successful.
  3. Queen Anne’s lace – known also as wild carrot, produced seeds that were used as contraceptives. Hippocrates wrote about it over two millennia ago and it was thought that the seeds blocked progesterone synthesis which disrupted semen from fertilising a woman’s eggs within 8 hours. This could be the first ever mention of a “morning after” form of birth control. The only problem was that Queen Anne’s lace looks similar to two deadly plants, Hemlock and Water Hemlock, making it very risky indeed.
  4. Papaya – in South Asia and Southeast Asia, unripe papayas were used to prevent or terminate pregnancy. The unripe fruit supposedly interfered with progesterone and prevented fertilisation. The seeds from a papaya were also used as a male contraceptive and, taken daily, were supposed to cut down a man’s sperm count, making it harder to conceive. As soon as a man stopped taking the seeds their sperm count would revert back to normal. This is not considered an effective form of contraception today.
  5. Credit:
    Mercury – the Ancient Egyptians and Ancient Greeks were fascinated by mercury and convinced themselves that it could treat many medical conditions, from skin disorders to syphilis. However, Ancient Chinese women were recommended to drink mercury before sex to convince their bodies that they were unfit to carry a child. There were many miscarriages as a consequence of this practise, however, mercury is also highly toxic and many women suffered organ failure and even died from exposure to it.
These days we live in a society where there are many forms of contraception available, and for free.
As a student it is important to look after your sexual health. Always have an STI check before any contact with a new sexual partner – you can findyour nearest clinic here. As Klaus Erling Johansen, a GUM Specialist Nurse who works for CNWL, advises, "The standard of services in our NHS sexual health centres ranks among the best in the country. You’ll find welcoming staff in bright, friendly surroundings. And to make it even simpler, you can choose to receive your test results by text.”

Remember that you should never feel pressurised into having sex with anybody and seek confidential advice if you have any concerns. It's your body after all.

Disclaimer: This post was put together with help from NHS CNWL Trust


  1. Theres also the 9 days before and 9 days after your mens. In my country they dont provide contraception for free so people resort to these urban legends. And the result is well a lot of babies =(


  2. Oh my goodness! This is most definitely an eye opener. Beaver testicles eh?! Who knew! Thank you for linking to #PoCoLo :) x