When was birth control invented?

People have been interested in birth control since ancient times. Withdrawal from sex is considered one of the oldest methods of birth control. The references to this simple “contraceptive” are found in the texts of different eras and cultures.

The most famous story about this method of contraception is about Onan, the second son of Judah, who refused to give his sperm in favor of his deceased brother Er. According to the Jewish tradition, Onan was supposed to marry the widow of his brother, and the child born of such a marriage would not be considered his firstborn, but Er’s.

Onan didn’t like this state of things. Therefore, when he had sex with his brother's widow, he “spilled his seed on the ground”.
Various practices related to withdrawal are also found in ancient texts of the peoples of Asia. For example, Indian yogis invented a special “mudra”, with the help of which, by an effort of will, one can restrain ejaculation. Chinese thinkers wrote about similar techniques. They believed that sperm is a source of vital force, and it is necessary to use it little by little. It is obvious that in addition to the philosophical content, such practices also had a practical goal — to avoid unplanned pregnancy.

Another natural method of contraception — avoiding sex on the fertile days of the cycle — also came to us from the ancient times. It is known that many peoples had traditions of sexual abstinence, which were ritual in nature. “Schedule” for women were ministers of shamans or priests.

The prototypes of today's condoms were known in ancient Egypt and Rome. Special tampons soaked in honey, salt, crocodile feces were also popular among rich people. These and other substances helped not only to create a barrier contraceptive but also caused the death of spermatozoa.

Indian tribes practiced vaginal washing with lemon juice and mahogany bark infusion after sex. Most of the peoples of Europe also used various contraceptives of plant and animal origin. For example, tea from marjoram was widely spread in Germany. Intrauterine devices in the form of silver balls appeared for the first time in China and Japan.

The history of contraception radically changed with the invention of hormonal drugs. Their development began at the beginning of the 20th century; however, the first contraceptive pills appeared only by the 1950s-1960s. These remedies contain hormones in concentrated levels and caused serious side effects. Modern hormonal contraceptives are considered safe and highly effective. In addition, they are used in the treatment of various gynecological diseases.

The history of contraception demonstrates the desire of people to invent easy-to-use and fairly effective contraceptives.

Published at 12/20/2018

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