As long as humans have been having children, they've been taking steps to prevent having children. Long before mass-production of condoms and scientific research propelled us towards more effective permanent methods of birth control, ancient cultures were using whatever they had available to prevent pregnancy. And we're willing to bet that some types of birth control on this list will come as a surprise to you.
Some of these birth control methods actually worked, due to scientific concepts that wouldn't have been well-understood at the time. Others were truly horrific, causing injury or death if not used correctly. Everything from crocodile poop and sheep guts to drinking lead and shoving various items up where items shouldn't get shoved was tried by Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and the people of Asia back in the day. Even now, ancient compounds and herbs are used by alternative medicine practitioners, with little scientific research to support their efficacy.
Here are some of the strangest, grossest and dumbest birth control methods from Ancient Mesopatamia until now. Vote up the methods you think are the most outrageous! And please, take these methods with a grain of salt and don't try them at home!
A 22-year-old woman in Colombia was hospitalized after the potato she was using as contraception began growing roots two weeks after she began using it. Apparently the woman had been told by her mother that such a method would work, reportedly because the mother was too afraid to actually talk to her daughter about sex.
Is this weird?
Sliced lemons were also used as birth control well into the 1700s, with the thought that the acid of the lemon would kill sperm. The legendary lover Casanova himself is thought to have fashioned the first cervical cap out of a lemon, no doubt left over from a cocktail he made for some lady. It might have actually worked, but the acidity it also could wreak havoc with the female reproductive system.
Aristotle himself mentions using olive oil as a birth control method, writing in his book "Historia Animalium" that pregnancy could be prevented “by anointing the part of the womb on which the seed falls with oil of cedar, or with ointment of lead or frankincense, co-mingled with olive oil.” This probably was ineffective, as well as messy and dangerous.
One of the crazier more modern contraceptive methods involves using Coca-Cola as a spermicide. While it sounds ridiculous, it was used by many women in the '50s and '60s who were prevented either by law or domineering husbands from obtaining more reliable birth control methods. A later experiment showed that Diet Coke did have a spermicidal effect, but other Coke flavors didn’t work well – and all had to be used almost right away.