Lysol And Crocodile Dung? Outrageous Birth Control Methods Through The Ages

July 30, 2015  |  
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If you think remembering to take a pill every day is burdensome, or getting an IUD sounds scary, you could use a little perspective. Here are some of the outrageous birth control methods that have been used through the ages.

Squat and sneeze

The Ancient Greeks believed that if a woman squatted immediately after sex and let out a good, big sneeze, she could sneeze out the sperm.


The French used to believe that sperm was just white blood, and doing a little bloodletting would decrease a man’s mojo. Physician Jacques Ferrand suggested men do this until they felt faint.

Crocodile Dung

In Ancient Egypt, women would use something called a pessary—essentially a device placed in the vagina to keep things from going in or out—made out of crocodile dung.

Olive oil in the vagina

In ancient Greece, women would put olive oil in their vaginas. It was thought to slow the motility of sperm. That just sounds like a good lube to us!

Bamboo paper

Japanese geishas used to put bamboo paper inside their vaginas as uterine blockers to hinder sperm.

Lemon juice

In Medieval Europe, women would put sponges soaked in lemon juice in their vaginas, thinking it killed the sperm. Research has found that not only does lemon juice not work as a contraceptive, but it also can cause damage in the vagina, making a person more susceptible to HIV.

A potato

This was, unfortunately, a very recent occurrence: A woman in Colombia believed that if she put a potato up her vagina, she would not get pregnant. She ended up in the hospital when the potato took up roots in her vaginal walls.

Tampons as birth control

After the tampon was invented, many women believed it could suck up the sperm and stop it from impregnating a woman. This led many women to intentionally leave tampons in during sex, which only landed them in the hospital.

Nettle leaves

In Elizabethan England, women would use Nettle leaves as linings inside their vaginas to block sperm. Itchy!

Chemical Disinfectants

In the 1920s and 1930s, many women believed douching with chemical disinfectants would work as a spermicide. This often led to burns and severe vaginal damage.

The rhythm method

A couple of ancient Greek doctors spread the word that a woman would most likely only become pregnant right before and right after her period. Oops.

Onion juice

Any man hoping to get some oral couldn’t use this method. Some ancient Greeks believed that applying onion juice to the foreskin of the penis could prevent pregnancy.

Half a lemon

One famous Italian womanizer would convince his lovers to shove half a lemon up there before sex to prevent pregnancy. He must have been quite a lover to get women to do that…

Tortoise shell condom

An ancient Japanese civilization created a sheath (essentially a condom) made from a tortoise shell.


In the early 1900s, many women believed douching with Lysol would prevent pregnancy. This lead to nearly 200 recorded deaths by Lysol poisoning.


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