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Ancient Egyptian Contraceptive Methods

Updated on January 1, 2016

How did the Egyptians prevent unwanted pregnancy?

When you think of the ancient Egyptians the first thing you may think of are mummys. Egyptians are well known for their body preservation practices, but have you heard of their effective, yet weird, methods of birth control? Modern contraceptives are condoms, sponges, shots or even pills. The Egyptians of Africa back then however did not have these modern luxuries and boy were they crafty. Brave too. Very brave. From using feces to sour milk I guess we can say they did what they had to do for birth control.

Wool Diaphragm

Dates are the sweet tasting fruit of the date palm. Acacia trees have sap, or gum that naturally emits from their bark. As a method of contraceptive the Egyptians would make a paste out of the gum of the tree, dates and honey. They would then take the paste and apply it to small piece of wool. The wool covered in the paste was then inserted into the vagina. This method was noted to actually be quite effective. How it works is the wool acts as a barrier, a diaphragm, preventing the sperm to enter the cervix. The gum of the Acacia, when fermented, has spermicidal properties. The honey has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties so it may have helped as a spermicide as well. Although to me, it may seem that having a piece of wool as contraceptive sounds uncomfortable, I applaud the Egyptians for coming up with one of the first diaphragms.

Sour Milk

The ancient Egyptians used a form of fumigation, or the use fumes or smoke for many type of illnesses. For the prevention of pregnancy they used a dough like substance made from vegetables and sour milk to be burned. The woman then stands over the fumes. It is believed the bad smelling fumes would chase the womb away.

Crocodile Poop

Yes. You've read that right. Ancient Egyptians used honey covered crocodile dung as a form of birth control. The most reasonable explanation is that the crocodile dung acted as barrier from the cervix. it as also believed it's alkaline properties would prevent pregnancy. Not many people believe this was effective as a means of birth control. Since croc poop is alkaline it may have actually increased chance of pregnancy since the vagina needs to be more acidic to prevent pregnancy.

What do you think now that you know more about the contraceptives ancient Egyptians used? Which do you believe worked best? Which one would you have tried if you lived back then? I personally would go for the wool. Fire near my crotch does not sound like fun. The dung, I can't even get past the thought of what the smell of the poop of an animal that lives in a river and eats almost anything. So no thanks to the dung as well. Makes you appreciate living in a modern world just a little bit more huh?

Choose one.

If you were an ancient Egyptian and HAD to choose a form of contraceptive, which would it be?

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© 2015 LaQuiel


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