Some Surprising Facts about Birth Control
PUBLISHED ON 03 July , 2021
At the first part we will have a deep look into the history of birth control, second part we talk about all the major birth control methods one by one
Birth Control in Ancient Egypt
We get tons of well-documented anecdotes of birth control in Ancient Egypt. The Ebers Papyrus from 1550 BC has the earliest documented examples of birth control where honey and acacia leaves were used to prevent pregnancy. Contraceptive pessaries and acacia gum were used as contraceptive jellies. Honey and sodium carbonate mixture were applied to the inside of the vagina to prevent fertilization.
Birth Control in Ancient Greece & Rome
Ancient Greece saw the very first oral birth control methods. Silphium was a plant that used to grow near Cyrene and the parts of that plants were used as oral contraceptive methods in ancient Greece and Africa. Similarly, Asafoetida plants were also used as effective contraceptives in ancient times. Ancient Greece also has recorded the use of lace, willow, date palm, pomegranate, pennyroyal, artemisia, myrrh, and rue for preventing pregnancy. It is another thing that some of these plants were poisonous and it was recommended to have a safe dosage of them. The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle writes about the use of Cedar Oil in the womb before having sex to prevent fertilization. Similarly, Hippocrates also wrote about drinking cooper salt and water mixture for birth control.
Birth Control in China & India
In Ancient China we find records of Master Tung-Hsuan who used coitus reservatus and coitus obstructs which helps in preventing the release of semen during sex. Sun Simiao dynasty also has documents that have stories about the use of thousands of gold contraceptives for women who don’t want to have children anymore. This method is used to induce infertility.
India has a rich history and its classical text titled Vatsyayana’s treatise say a lot about the use of contraceptive methods used to control the release of semen. There are documented records of the use of a mixture made from powdered palm leaf and red chalk as contraceptives. Similarly, pessaries were made from honey, ghee, rock salt, and seeds of the palace tree and they were used. Some of the major herbs and plants that can be used as contraceptives or birth control methods can be found in 12th Century Indian text titled Ratirahasya and in a 15th-century text titled Ananga Ranga.
Birth Control in Medieval Persia
In the old records of Medieval Persia, we see documents of Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi who was a physician. He writes about various methods that were used to induce the interruptions in ejaculation and he also writes about the use of pessaries that will block the cervix and proves an effective method of birth control. Cabbages, elephant dung, and various other means were used in combinations for blocking the entry of semen into the ovary and this was used to prevent fertilization. During the early 10th century, Persian Polymath, Abu Ali al-Hussain ibn Abdallah ibn Sina documented 20 different methods of contraceptives in his medical encyclopedia The Canon of Medicine.
Birth Control in Medieval Europe
In the starting, Europe’s Catholic Church deemed it immoral to use birth control methods. But records show that willing people used several contraceptive measures such as coitus interruptus, insertion of lily root in the vagina, and more. According to historian John M. Riddle, women in the middle ages and early modern age were using various herbs and plants to control fertility. Later the women who were found using birth control methods were deemed as witches which lead to various superstitions formation in the public. Casanova in the 18th century records the use of assurance cups that were inserted into the vagina of the female and were used to prevent the semen from reaching the ova. In 1909, Richard Richter was the person who developed the first intrauterine device that was manufactured from the silkworm gut.
Modern Age and Birth Control Measures
With the rise of science and technology and the industrial revolution, the world started connecting at a larger speed. Birth control measures became a political issue in the 19th century. Various papers were published in support of population growth and it was deemed wrong to prevent pregnancy. Terms like voluntary motherhood and involuntary motherhood came into light that was reflected upon as the periodic absence from having sex rather than using birth control methods. It was 1921 when cervical cups started being used by women as birth control methods. And due to this, it became one of the most important years in the whole history of birth control.
First birth control pills were devised in the 1950s and become available to the public in the 1960s. Medical abortion also got some exposure in the 1970s.
As of now, we see lots of birth control methods like hormonal methods, barriers, intrauterine devices, sterilizations, behavioral, dual protection, and more.
Let's talk about all the major birth control methods one by one-
These pills offer a safe method for birth prevention and they affect the body at the hormonal level. They are not recommended to women over 35 years of age.
- Barrier Contraceptives
- Female Condoms
- Cervical Caps
- Contraceptive Sponge
- Intrauterine Devices
- Behavioral Birth Control
- Fertility Awareness
- Withdrawl Method
- Emergency Birth Control Methods
There are too many myths about Birth Control methods that prevent people from having safe sex or using birth control means to prevent pregnancy. They have no scientific basis and due to age-old customs or misconceptions leading to misinformation. Let’s talk about them.
Contraceptive Pills lead to Birth Defects
Wrong!! There is scientific evidence that the use of birth control pills only prevents pregnancy and it has no effect on the fetus.
Pill Can Cause Cancer
It is a completely baseless myth. There have been scientific research behind this thing and the compounds used in pills are proven to decrease the risk of getting prevent. In fact, various studies by medical journals have found that the use of oral contraceptives will decrease the risk of two major gynecological cancers – ovarian and endometrial. So there is no risk and it’s a myth about cancer.
Using Pills Will Make You Infertile
There is a general misconception among women that using pills will make them infertile and it is completely baseless. There is not even a 1% risk of infertility by the use of oral contraceptive pills. There is evidence of a multitude of women having children after years of taking pills.
Birth Control Will Lead to Weight Gain
People and especially women worry about gaining weight by the use of birth control methods such as oral contraceptives. A study done in 2014 show that there is no relation to weight gain by the use of birth control pills. Similar results were found in a 2016 study that showed that there is no direct relation between birth control measures and weight gain thus proving that birth control pills are completely free from causing weight gain.
Older People Don’t Need Birth Control
It’s a myth. People who think that since they have aged a bit, their sexual activity won’t lead to pregnancy are wrong. Studies show that after one year of menopause in women, pregnancy is possible. Similarly, males too can remain fertile till the age of 60 and 70s and in fact beyond and there have been many examples in history.
Birth Control Measures can Cause Stroke or Heart Diseases
With the rise of online forums and misleading information on the internet, it has been seen the many people associate health conditions with oral contraceptives or IUDs that have no direct relations. Heart stroke or disease is a major example of that wrong information. There is no scientific evidence that birth control pills affect heart conditions. It can be due to other reasons but oral contraceptives or IUDs are not among them.
No Orgasm No Pregnancy
Women and men have this misconception that if the female is not orgasming that means they will not get pregnant. This information is wrong. A female can become pregnant even if she has not experienced orgasm during sex. What is true for males is not true for women. Women’s sex mechanism is a little bit different from men. During the fertility period of women, even if the women don’t reach orgasm, the fusion of semen with the ova can lead to pregnancy.
Balloon or Plastic Wrap is an Alternative to Condom
Don’t ever use a balloon or plastic wrap. It can lead to very serious circumstances. The latex used in condoms is completely different from the latex used in balloons. And the protection mechanism is completely different. Seriously, you can harm yourself and your partner by using these ineffective methods.
Implants, Injections or Hormonal Methods Will Make Me Crazy
People think that the hormonal injections or method will alter their psychology and lead to them becoming crazy after using IUDs, implants, or hormonal injections for birth control. This is a myth. You can always talk to your doctor about the effects and you will come to know that they are extremely safe and don’t have any medical side effects related to you being crazy.
IUDs Can Tear The Uterus
Since IUDs have metal inside them, people think that they will harm the normal functioning of their bodies or that it can lead to harmful conditions inside their bodies. This is a myth. IUDs are extremely safe to use and their use of metal is completely safe as standardized by the medical association.
Pill Can Also Prevent STDs
No, never. A pill can’t prevent you from getting STDs or Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Remember, STD has a whole different mechanism of transmission. They are transmitted during sex and if you don’t use protection during sex then even if you don’t get pregnant, there is a risk of getting an STD. So the use of a condom can only prevent STD.
Some Surprising Facts about Birth Control
- The most percentage of women using contraception is between the age of 15 to 44. According to a study, the most preferred method of birth control is an oral contraceptive pill followed by IUD and implants.
- Between the age group of 20 to 29, 62 percent of women use birth control while this number reaches 72 percent in the age group of 30 to 39.
- Contraceptive patches and rings are far better options than pills according to some studies. They don’t have that many risks as pills and patches can be replaced on weekly basis. Similarly, rings are replaced once a month which is far better than pills that need to be taken daily.
- Progestin shot is becoming a popular form of birth control. Progestin shots are given in the form of injections in the buttocks or arm. Their number is kept up to 4 times in a year and they are very reliable.
- Not every birth control method is for you. You need to have a thorough checkup with your doctor to get the right method of birth control. IUDs or Oral Pills might not be suitable for you based on your physiological diagnostic. So talk about this with your doctor and then go for the best one.
- Birth control doesn’t affect your sex drive. There is this fear in public about their sex drive being affected by the birth control methods but that is a misconception. According to various studies, birth control methods are totally irrelevant to the sex drive meaning while using birth control methods you can be free from worrying about losing your sex drive.
- Various research is being done for creating hormonal birth control methods for men.
- The following four things need to be kept in mind while deciding on the suitable birth control means for you –
- Reliability of the method: you should be thoroughly aware of the success rate of that method and should consult with your doctor
- Ease of Use: If you are having too much difficulty in using the birth control method then it might not be the right method for you. Always go for an easy way in these situations. If the problem persists, consult with your doctor.
- Potential Side-Effects: Your doctor will help you there based on your medical history and body makeup which is going to be the main reason for any side effects from various birth control methods.
- Health Risks: If you have immune problems related to your health, then you need to choose the birth control method that is perfectly healthy for you.
- IUDs can be used at any stage of your life irrespective of your age. That’s the region IUDs are considered as the best birth control method in the world. And the most widely used method too.
- Condoms can help you in preventing pregnancy as well as STDs and that’s the reason for their immense popularity.
Birth Control or contraception is any method, device, or means that can be used to prevent you from getting impregnated. There are multitudes of options available for women across various platforms to help them in family planning. There is a huge history behind modern birth control methods and those methods have evolved over the years. Birth control is a necessary thing now in the modern future when the resources are limited and freedom is enjoyed in a new way.
You will have to remember that no ‘best’ method for birth control. It will depend on your choices, lifestyle, physiology, and other things. Your doctor will be the most reliable person to get the help in choosing the right method. There are many questions which you need to answer before choosing any one of the options available for birth control. Questions such as – do you want to have children in the future or not, what are the side effects, do you have any medical condition, overall sexual activity, and many more questions need to be answered by you.
In the end, we would like to say that whatever option you chose, you should remember that birth control is a choice that you make to make a good life for yourself. They are scientifically proven to be safe and free from any health risks. In fact, they make you stronger in your choices and life. So don’t worry about your sexual life, just chose the right birth control method and enjoy a healthy life.
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