There was a time in history when it was believed that spirits controlled pregnancies; women believed the sun or moon controlled fertility. In the cultures where women believed the moon had the power to influence conception; the women would sleep out of the reach of moonlight to avoid getting pregnant. Women believed the menstrual cycle corresponded with the phases of the moon, with ovulation happening at full moon and menstruation beginning with the new moon.
In the Roman culture women would wear a leather pouch filled with a cat’s liver on their left foot during sex to prevent pregnancy. The connection between sex and pregnancy was not always made and some women wore amulets and various necklaces that were supposed to control the act of conception.
In Egypt, the women used “pessaries.”These were vaginal suppositories. One of the more popular pessary was a paste created from crocodile dung, honey along with various other plants that were melted into the vagina.The pH of a healthy body is alkaline; the alkaline environment created by the dung created the ideal environment for sperm survival.The smell was the best deterrent.
There were other forms of a pessary. For example, citric acid is said to have spermicidal properties and women soaked sponges in lemon juice and inserted them vaginally. The sponge created a physical barrier between the sperm and the cervix. It is said this method is mentioned in the Talmud as the preferred method of birth control of ancient Jewish communities. Lemon and lime juice douches following coitus were also used as a form of birth control.
In The Bible, a number of plants are mentioned in the Old Testament Book of the Song of Songs (Song of Solomon) as contraception and abortifacients. These include pomegranates, wine, myrrh, spikenard and cinnamon.
There was a Greek Gynecologist named Soranus(late 1st-to early 2nd century A.D here is how he is described: “A Greed so-called “Methodist” physician who practiced and wrote about gynecology. He came from Ephesus, and practiced medicine in Alexandria and Rome. His Gynecology includes information on a birthing stool, dilation of the cervix, and breathing techniques.” As early as this time, Soranus knew that women were fertile during ovulation and promoted the Rhythm Method.
The first condom was produced in 1562. It was made from animal intestines, goat bladders or blowfish intestines. Condoms were used to protect against pregnancy but also against venereal diseases. Latex rubber condoms were first produced in 1840 and have been used ever since.