Throughout the various stages of human history, people have tried diverse means to avoid pregnancy. As a result of research, they used many methods that were not accurate.
Withdrawal, barrier methods, and herbal abortion are the oldest methods. In the ancient times, it was believed that pregnancy was controlled by spirits, the moon, and the sun. Women tended to sleep out of reach of moonlight in order to avoid pregnancy. Walking over the graves of dead female ancestors was also thought to prevent pregnancy. Sex was even prohibited by religious and ethical groups, a dark period in the history of birth control.
To prevent pregnancy during *** intercourse, ancient Roman women put on a leather patch filled with cat's liver. A highly acidic mixture of fruits, nuts, and wool was also placed over a woman's cervix; the belief was that this mixture would act as a barrier for semen trying to get into the egg. In many ancient cultures, women wore various necklaces and other ornaments, thinking that such objects would protect them from pregnancy.
In Egypt, suppositories were made with crocodile dung and fermented dough and placed in the vaginas of women. It was believed that these sticky substances would stop the sperm from entering a woman's body. These activities, in effect, discouraged men from having *** intercourse with such women.
The history of birth control shows that no scientific methods were known in ancient times for effective birth control. A Greek gynecologist, Soranus, suggested that women should avoid sex during the days of ovulation. He discovered that these were the most fertile days. This was called the rhythm method. Soranus also advised women to hold their breath and draw their bodies back during sex in order to stop the sperm from entering the body - obviously not an effective method of birth control. The only completely effective birth control method used in ancient and modern times was abstinence.
Today, many people use age-old methods that are not perfect. In the early twentieth century, scientists discovered that women ovulate only once during a menstrual cycle. In the middle of the twentieth century, scientists understood the functioning of the menstrual cycle and ways to control hormones. Today, we use more birth control methods for men and women. Scientists are in the process of introducing a new birth control method for men: a male birth control pill.
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