Monday, 2 June 2014

CONTRACEPTION IN ANCIENT EGYPT


The ancient Egyptians tried many forms of contraception. The Kahun papyrus, for example, recommends the excrement of a crocodile made into pessaries for women to use. Did it work? Apparently it is alkaline like modern day spermicides so could have had a slight chance of being effective.
Other methods of contraception also involved the woman inserting various materials in the vagina. Here's an extract from the Ebers Papyrus:
'Beginning of the prescriptions prepared for women/wives (hemut) to allow a woman (set) to cease conceiving (iur) for one year, two years or three years: qaa part of acacia, carob, dates, grind with one henu (450 ml) of honey; lint is moistened with it and placed in her flesh.'
Honey, was one of the most widely used ingredients in ancient Egyptian medicine so it is not surprising it features in the Kahun papyrus as a useful contraceptive. It is possible that honey is spermicidal by means of its osmotic effect but I'm not sure how effective it was.


Birthing scene from the Temple of Dendera

Crocodile dung was used as a contraceptive in ancient Egypt

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