Contraception – now and then

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The condom is globally the most popular form of contraception with 41% of people choosing it ahead of any other form of contraception, according to the Durex Annual Global Sex Survey released at the end of the year 2000. Sixty-one percent of those aged 16-20 cited it as their preferred method.

Almost a fifth of the people worldwide are using the pill as their main form of contraception, while 13% of the global population do not use any form of contraception at all.

Youngsters (16 – 20) seem to have heeded the safer sex message with only eight percent admitting that they do not use contraception.

But what did people do in centuries gone by? Was abstention the only method you could use to limit the size of your family?

In many cases, yes, although people have experimented with a variety of condoms throughout the ages. The ancient Egyptians favoured penis protectors made from animal intestines. Even before that snakeskin was used to fashion condoms.

In 1504 Fallopius, an Italian anatomist created a linen condom to try and stop the spread of syphilis.

In the 1800’s the discovery of rubber made it possible to make condoms that could be used as a protection against both infection and pregnancy.

In the 1960’s the Pill was introduced and started to be used widely.

Many different concoctions were used as contraception in years gone by. The Hippocratic texts advised a drink of copper sulphate, while the Chinese recommended mercury to prevent pregnancy. Women in India took carrot seeds, while those in New Brunswick made a drink brewed with beaver testicles.

Attempts were also made to create versions of the modern day cap and spermicidal jelly. Sea sponges soaked in lemon juice or halved citrus fruits were inserted into a woman’s cervix. The fruit acid killed the sperm and the sponge or the fruit skin acted as a block.

Aren’t you glad you are living now and not then?

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Any questions? Ask our sexologist

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