History of birth control

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The history of birth control, also known as contraception and fertility control, refers to the methods or devices that have been historically used to prevent pregnancy. Planning and provision of birth control is called family planning. In some times and cultures, abortion had none of the stigma which it has today, making birth control less important.
Ancient world
Ancient Egypt
Birth control and abortion are well documented in Ancient Egypt. The Ebers Papyrus from 1550 BC and the Kahun Papyrus from 1850 BC have within them some of the earliest documented descriptions of birth control, the use of honey, acacia leaves and lint to be placed in the vagina to block sperm. Another early document explicitly referring to birth control methods is the Kahun Gynecological Papyrus from about 1850 BC. It describes various contraceptive pessaries, including acacia gum, which recent research has confirmed to have spermatocidal qualities and is still used in contraceptive jellies. Other birth control methods mentioned in the papyrus include the application of gummy substances to cover the "mouth of the womb" , a mixture of honey and sodium carbonate applied to the inside of the vagina, and a pessary made from crocodile dung. Lactation of up to three years was also used for birth control purposes in ancient Egypt.

The Book of Genesis references withdrawal, or coitus interruptus, as a method of contraception when Onan "spills his seed" on the ground so as to not father a child with his deceased brother's wife Tamar.

Ancient Greece and Rome
Silphium, a species of giant fennel native to north Africa, may have been used as an oral contraceptive in ancient Greece and the ancient Near East. The plant only grew on a small strip of land near the coastal city of Cyrene and all attempts to cultivate it elsewhere resulted in failure. Silphium was primarily used for culinary purposes and its use as a contraceptive is far less documented than its use as a seasoning. Accounts of silphium's contraceptive effectiveness are probably greatly exaggerated. Possibly due to its supposed effectiveness and thus desirability, by the first century AD, it had become so rare that it was worth more than its weight in silver and, by late antiquity, it was fully extinct. Asafoetida, a close relative of siliphion, was also used for its contraceptive properties. Other plants commonly used for birth control in ancient Greece include Queen Anne's lace , willow, date palm, pomegranate, pennyroyal, artemisia, myrrh, and rue. Some of these plants are toxic and ancient Greek documents specify safe dosages. Recent studies have confirmed the birth control properties of many of these plants, confirming for example that Queen Anne's lace has post coital anti-fertility properties. Queen Anne's lace is still used today for birth control in India.
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Birth control
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