Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Old Timey Contraceptives

I did follow through with the Trixie costume - sort of. You can buy a lot of things on Amazon.com, except authentic-looking nineteenth century blouses in dust bowl brown.

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So I ended up going with a more traditional Halloween saloon girl look.

To make up for the lackluster ensemble, I accessorized with some abortifacient herbs. (A bag of Ceylon rose tea masquerading as tansy.) And while researching abortifacients (substances that induce abortion), I discovered some interesting facts about early contraceptives:

- Silphium, a member of the parsley family, was a powerful abortifacient harvested in ancient Greece. It was so popular it was harvested to extinction around the 1st century.

-Other supposed abortifacients:

Wild carrot
Black Cohosh
Slippery Elm
Common Rue

- In the 2nd century, the Greek gynaecologist Soranus advised women seeking abortion to drink water that blacksmiths had used to cool metal (PS: guy's name is Soranus).

-Old western prostitutes used coins as cervical caps (according to David Carradine). Asian women used oiled paper; English women used beeswax.

-"From 1930 until 1960, the most popular female contraceptive was Lysol disinfectant -- advertised as a feminine hygiene product in ads featuring testimonials from prominent European "doctors." Later investigation by the American Medical Association showed that these experts did not exist."

- Condoms were first made from animal intestines

-The first IUDs (intrauterine devices) were used on camels. Apparently, Arabs would stick pebbles into their uteruses to keep them from getting pregnant.

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