Recent studies show that out of the eight most common reasons for people having sexual intercourse, getting pregnant is always the last. It seems that even if human being are biologically wired to be sexually aroused to ensure reproduction of the species, bearing children places a distant second to pleasure when it comes to sexual motivation. Ever since history began, men and women have always wanted to be the ones deciding on whether or not to have a child. Contraceptives were used in one method or another for thousands of years throughout human history. In fact, family planning has always been practiced even in societies that are dominated by political, social, and religious codes that require people to “become fruitful and multiply.”
Of course, the earlier methods used before the 20th century were not as safe and as effective as the ones we have today. Before, Chinese women drank mercury and lead to be able to control fertility, but often results in sterility or death. In Europe, during the Middle Ages, magicians advised women to wear weasel testicles on their thighs or hang its amputated foot around their necks. Other amulets during this time include wreaths of herbs, cat livers, hare anus, and even flax lint tied in a cloth and soaked in menstrual blood. It was also believed before that a woman could avoid pregnancy by walking around a spot where a pregnant wolf had urinated for three times.
To start of the history of birth control, behavioral methods are seen to depict how people see contraceptives way before birth control pills even existed. Abstinence, specifically for women, was an important issue for ancient people who understood the connection between vaginal intercourse and reproduction. After menarche (time of their first menstrual period), women in many cultures were expected to maintain their virginity. This way, their future husbands could be sure of the paternity of their children.
Augustine of Hippo, an early Christian church bishop, taught that masturbation as well as other alternatives to sexual intercourse (outer course) were much grave than sins of fornication, rape, incest, and adultery. Because fornication, rape, incest, and adultery could lead to pregnancy, they were considered as “natural” sins. While this was happening, Mallinaga Vatsayayana in India was already writing the world’s greatest literary work of pro creative and non-procreative sex play, Kama Sutra. Outer-course revived in America during the 1940s and ’50s. During this time, virginity was considered very important for unmarried women. Having outer course in the back seat of a car at drive-in movies allowed young women to have sex while remaining “technically” virgin.
Outercourse became history when the pill became available during the sexual revolution of the ’60s. By the ’80s, vaginal intercourse was somewhat a normal event for people. But as the sexual revolution began losing its charm with the spread of AIDS, many people began wondering if they are passing up on any other pleasures of sex play. Wanting more romance, people of the 21st century are now rediscovering pleasure of seduction, courtship, and outer course.
History of birth control does not stop here. From withdrawal methods in ancient China, to the condom and vaginal sponge, to the never ending use of contraceptive foams, creams, jellies, film, and suppositories, many people have been practicing several methods for preventing pregnancy even up until today.