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family planning, old school
March 12, 2011 7:32 PM   Subscribe

Antique contraception & protection from the disease - (NSFW) male & female methodologies of birth control from antiquity to the 1900s in pictures and text (Translated from Russian)

Related:
Birth control of yesteryear
Natural contraception in the ancient world? - prior post by Chinese Jet Pilot
9 most bizarre birth control methods
posted by madamjujujive (19 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Today I learned that condoms and other contraceptives could not legally be sold in Ireland until 1978.
posted by brennen at 7:53 PM on March 12, 2011


Fascinating about the giant fennel.

When living in West Bengal, I found out that the Santhal tribeswomen used traditional birth control recipes. I was always curious what they used but wasn't motivated until reading your post. Sure enough, they use a plant concoction (no pun intended) that has been found to have an antifertility effect.
posted by nickyskye at 8:19 PM on March 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whoa, I just looked at your firt link ( for some reason looked at all the other links first). Omg. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Those pessaries must have been agony. They must have caused all kinds of infections. ack. God, the things we women have done not to get pregnant. And those obstetric tools, omg!

When I was a kid Durex condoms were made of sheep's intestines and smelled like it too. unng. In a neat looking little cobalt blue plastic box. Anybody else remember those?
posted by nickyskye at 8:43 PM on March 12, 2011


*first link
posted by nickyskye at 8:44 PM on March 12, 2011


Brennan,, I was looking to find out when contraceptives were legal in the US - and found a post I previously made on the anniversary of the Pill - I know it was illegal for single women until 1972 - before that you had to be married & get your husband's OK.

Also found a great related prior post by gman that I overlooked: Virgin is not a ditry word.

Thanks for the links, nickyskye - that is interesting. I thought about adding folk remedies to this but it seemed like more research than I was up for - so thanks for that!
posted by madamjujujive at 8:52 PM on March 12, 2011


Ahhh, those stem pessaries! Am I understanding correctly that the stem would have protruded through the os from the uterus? Wouldn't you have been in agony pretty much constantly, let alone during sex? The infection rate must have been awful.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 9:02 PM on March 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Reading about the sylphium was interesting. Particularly how it went extinct. A miracle herb worth it's weight in silver, that only grows in one place, with careful regulations specifically to prevent it from dying out, and they blame "over-grazing". Why were they grazing animals in the one place where the miracle plant can ever grow?
posted by amethysts at 9:51 PM on March 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


If it was good enough for granddad...
posted by anarch at 10:04 PM on March 12, 2011


amethysts, I just read a claim somewhere (but have closed the tab and don't feel like digging through my history) that animals were deliberately being grazed on the stuff in order to impart some special properties to the meat.

I'm curious about the close relatives/possibly identical giant fennel species mentioned in the Wikipedia article; all the fennels I've seen have long, straight seeds, are there still extant species with seeds that are heart-shaped? Is our culinary fennel a close enough relative that pregnant women should stay away from it?
posted by contraption at 10:24 PM on March 12, 2011


I am madly in love with that postcard in your first link of the Victorian-era woman attempting to beat the stork with her umbrella.
posted by Dr. Zira at 10:47 PM on March 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


They had a lot of information on giant fennel in Archeology Today some years back. Fascinating pictures and article about other methods. even The Pill was of plant origin. Chimpanzees also use plants to keep from getting pregnant.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 11:09 PM on March 12, 2011


Ah, here we go: not heart-shaped, but closer than the stuff we eat.
posted by contraption at 11:11 PM on March 12, 2011


Today I learned that condoms and other contraceptives could not legally be sold in Ireland until 1978

Yep. One of my relatives worked for Aer Lingus in the 50s and 60s and has amusing stories about smuggling condoms and birth control pills into Ireland in their flight bags (and whisky back out!). There were also doctors that offered sterilization (safely and at reasonably prices, but illegally) and I know a lot of married couples who did that after they'd had kids. It was never talked about and I think people would be surprised to know how often it happened, or that their parents chose that option.
posted by fshgrl at 12:24 AM on March 13, 2011


One of my relatives worked for Aer Lingus in the 50s and 60s and has amusing stories about smuggling condoms and birth control pills into Ireland in their flight bags (and whisky back out!).

Interestingly enough it was mentioned as a minor point in a Dick Francis novel; I can't remember if it was Rat Race or Flying Finish.

And people wonder why a chunk of the population of the north have had little desire to joing the south...
posted by rodgerd at 1:37 AM on March 13, 2011


When I was a kid Durex condoms were made of sheep's intestines and smelled like it too. unng. In a neat looking little cobalt blue plastic box. Anybody else remember those?

I'm guessing you're misremembering here, nickyskye. Durex were manufactured by the London Rubber Company, and have been produced in latex since the 1930's.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:11 AM on March 13, 2011


Wow, those anti-masturbation devices looked NASTY.
posted by lollusc at 4:20 AM on March 13, 2011


Er, if you're struggling with the original Russian or the google translation, note that a lot of those images seem to come either from the UK-based 'science & society' picture library (multi-museum project, including London's Science Museum) or from the image collection at the often-linked Wellcome Library. The science & society site has quite extensive 'blurbs' about the objects pictured.
posted by AFII at 5:38 AM on March 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Durex were manufactured by the London Rubber Company

Nickyskye, you're probably thinking of the Fourex brand.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:18 AM on March 13, 2011


You're right PeterMcDemott! MetaFilter is always exceptional for accurate info.

I wondered why I couldn't find a pic of those little cobalt blue boxes online when I looked for them as Durex. They were made by Julius Schmid's Fourex. (Still no pic though.)
posted by nickyskye at 2:19 PM on March 13, 2011


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