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History Of Contraceptives Essay, Research Paper

The history of birth control Well we’re not all little kids here, we know about sex, and we know that we as humans like to have sex, unfortunately ( or fortunately depends on how you look at it) the product of the horizontal polka is a sweet little baby, and that might not always be wanted. So therefore we have these neat things called contraceptives. The whole idea of contraceptives is not a new one. People have been using birth control for thousands of years, all the way back to Ancient Greece where linen condoms, dried fish powder, and sea sponges were used, and while they may not have had the efficacy rates of today’s birth control devices, they had their uses at the time. That being said, I would NOT recommend any of the types of birth control that have fallen out of use over the centuries. There is a reason they are no longer in use. Some of them were ineffective at best, some of them could be downright deadly. We have better technology today (tons better). Now you might be asking about the different types of birth control. The forms of birth control that have been used over the years and currently include pesssaries, plants, condoms, and birth control pills. While there have been others it is best that we not discuss them here(trust me you don’t want to know). Pessaries are vaginal suppositories. Used from ancient times to the present, they can be a fairly effective form of birth control. In ancient times, pessaries often contained acacia gum, which, while having some possible spermacidal effect, very likely sealed up the cervix, making it impossible for the sperm to pass through. This would make pessaries with acacia gum more of a barrier than a spermacidal or contraceptive form of birth control, but in the past they were not considered barriers. The Kahun Papyrus, the oldest written document referring to birth control measures that has been found to date, refers to a pesky of crocodile dung and fermented dough( now I personally would not want crocodile crap and some old dough to be put in my body). This document reportedly dates back to around 1850 BC! Today pessaries usually come in the typical waxy form of suppositories. They contain spermacides such as nonoxynol-9 and must be inserted some time before intercourse, and they can be used with or without a condom. Plants have been used as birth control and as abortifacients(things that cause a fertilized egg to be expelled from the body) for centuries, usually to some good effect. One of the oldest known effective plants for birth control was called silphium. This plant was used well before 370 B.C. Apparently it was extremely effective and was used to extinction by the third or fourth century A.D. Queen Anne’s Lace, or Wild Carrot, is also highly effective, and was used as long ago as 2,000 years as an oral contraceptive. In the late 1980s scientists began studying Queen Anne’s Lace and found that (in mice at least) it blocked the production of progesterone and inhibited fetal and ovarian growth. It continues to be used to this day as a sort of morning-after contraceptive, with women in parts of the rural United States drinking a teaspoonful of the seeds with a glass of water immediately after sex. Just a tad of unusefull info: Queen Anne’s Lace is also known as Mother Die, because if you brought it into your house, according to superstition, your mother would die. Other plants that have been used include pennyroyal (which is toxic), asafoetida, artemisia, myrrh, rue, willow, date palm, pomegranate (the skin), cabbage, juniper, pine, onions, and acacia gum.

Condoms have also been used as a primary means of birth control for a long time. Some of the earliest examples include condoms made of snakeskin (not what many men or myself would consider comfortable). Later condoms were made of such things as linen and sheepskin. Today condoms are commonly made of latex or polyurethane. Condoms have a decent efficacy rate, especially with the fairly recent (in the grand scheme of things) addition of nonoxynol-9. Nonoxynol-9 is a spermicidal lubricant which is placed inside the condom. If the condom were to slip off or break during intercourse, the nonoxynol-9 will provide a bit of protection (not to say that you shouldn’t stop doing the dirty deed and put on another one to be on the safe side, especially from STDs). Birth control pills are another oral contraceptive for women. They are monophasic, biphasic, or triphasic. Each type contains estrogen and progestin in differing amounts. Monophasic birth control pills maintain the same levels of estrogen and progestin throughout the course, while biphasic pills keep the estrogen level the same while increasing the progestin levels for the last 11 days of the pack, and triphasic pills are designed to mimic the natural menstrual cycle by varying both hormones throughout the pack. Basically the progesterone in birth control pills has an antifertility effect, and also suppresses ovulation at higher levels. Birth control pills first appeared in the 1950s after it was discovered that progesterone blocked ovulation. The first birth control pills contained more than 20% more estrogen and more than 10% more progesterone than pills today. This significant reduction has decreased the adverse side effects of the drugs greatly. Currently the birth control pill has the highest efficacy rate, with a 99.9% effectiveness rate for combination regimens and a 99.5% effectiveness rate for progestin only regimens in clinical trials. OK now that about covers it, we have certainty come a long a way, from using piece’s of wood(you figure it out) to just taking a pill with some water, for forms of birth control.


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