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Fertility and Fertility Control


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									Fertility and Fertility
Antoinette Kathol
Keep in Mind
1.   Who was in charge of anti-fertility measures in
     general and contraception?

2.   At what point, or under what circumstances, did
     women’s and men’s fertility interests diverge?

3.   What is the impact of unmistakable knowledge of
     the male role in conception?

4.   What is the impact of patriarchy?

5.   When did fertility cease to be an individual or family
     matter and become a matter for group, eventually
     state, regulation?
Early History
   Early history of contraception is woman’s history
    and therefore unknown
   This ignorance is because many anthropologist
    have been male
    – Men did not go in market place where they were sold
    – Men hear what they want to hear
    – It was kept secret because it could be means for divorce
   No contraception before mid-nineteenth century for
    Western Culture
    – Male’s withdrawal method
    – Couples married for awhile performed intercourse less
Male Anthropologist may
never ask IF:
   They did not win confidence of any females
   Abortion is openly performed
   See or suspect infanticide
   Postpartum sex taboo is long and firmly
   Infant and child mortality rates are high
   They saw little reason to ask about
Contraception kept Secret

   More effective device or agent might
    be, more concealed women would
    keep it

   Women would reveal the name of
    contraceptive plant
    – They would not divulge how to prepare it
      or use it.
Ignorance in Europe and
   Anthropologists discounted reports of
    herbal contraceptives

   They believed if their own medical
    science had yet to discover it, it did
    not work

   Women invented all the basic types of
    contraception known today

   Modern medicine refined or re-
    invented devices and methods that
    women knew centuries before

   Explained:
    – Hominid infants survival would depend on
      its mother’s ability to limit births
    – Men are hostile to contraception
          They see women’s methods of preventing or
           terminating pregnancy as withholding from
           males their right, as men, to have children
    – Men want more children than woman do
Herbal Contraceptives
   Primitive groups
    – foods or condiments if prepared one way
    – Contraceptives or abortifacients if prepared another way
      such as unripe or raw foods
            Unripe pineapple is used to interfere with gestation if used in
             smaller concentrations
   Less familiar Contraceptives
    –   Bay laurel
    –   Feverfew
    –   Plantain
    –   Arbor vitae
    –   St. John’s Wart

   Female demons in Jewish legend
    – Lilith
          Blamed for infertility and infant deaths

   Lilith - Wikipedia, the free
Horticultural and Pre-
horticultural Period
   Iroquois (Seneca)
    – Birth spacing in women’s hands
    – Women took greatest joy in birth of a

   Australian Aboriginal women
    – Have complete control over reproduction
Primitive Women
   Ignorance about women’s role in contraceptive
   Two Stereotypes
    – They limit their families by abortion and infanticide
    – Their lives are a repetitive cycle of childbearing
   Most pre-horticultural groups grew very slowly and
    simply maintain numbers
   Most anthropologists found
    – Every tribe ever studied has wished to limit its fertility, and
      has used all means at its disposal to do so.
Anthropologists Question
   Whether they wish to limit fertility has been with us as
    long as our humanness
   Whether it arose at some later time and origin
   Did this desire start with the individual woman to limit
    families or the desire of a while to prevent or correct
   Woman could only carry one child while on moves
     – She would not bear another until the 1st could walk
       miles without help
   Start of the agricultural period brought on an explosion in
    population which then needed to be corrected.
Cultural Methods
Postpartum Intercourse Taboos
   Make sexual intercourse taboo for mother and
     – Period ranged from several weeks, months
       or even 4 to 5 years after birth
   Plains Indians custom
     – Don’t have second child until the 1st is 10
       years old
   This taboo kept the group in balance with food
     – Ensured infants received enough protein
     – Survival factor
   This taboo might keep anthropologists from
    searching other contraceptives.
Cultural Methods
   Postpartum intercourse taboos have some
    relation with the need to breast feed
   Nursing has a contraceptive effect
   Even today, more births are prevented by
    breast feeding than any other method
   Women consciously prolonged it
   Baffin Land Eskimo and Native American
    – Prolonged it to keep families small
Cultural Methods
Other Intercourse Taboos/Regulations

   Pre or extra marital love-making
   Mbuti of Africa – young partners in
    premarital sex must not embrace fully
    – Hold each other by the shoulders
   Applied by women
    – Chastity belt  a visible sign of unavailability
          Goatskin chastity tunic worn by Libyan girls
          If removed, resulted in death of man
Cultural Methods
   Time tested cultural technique to influence

   Ghana in 1970s
    – Women who are easy are ridiculed as being
      primitive and have no self control

   Fiji: feelings of shame if they become
    pregnant too often
Cultural Methods
Imposed Barrenness/Celibacy
   Certain groups had imposed temporary or
    permanent celibacy
    – Nuns, monks, priests in Roman Catholic
      countries, young men not yet warriors and
      unmarried girls in Western Societies

   Imposed celibacy/barrenness
    – Demand a stratified society
    – Consciousness of overpopulation
    – Imposed on women not to limit their own
Imposed Barrenness/Celibacy
Atrahasis Epic
   This epic takes place in Babylon
   Reason the gods decide to destroy
    humankind is because of overpopulation
   Plagues bring suffering
    – By 6th year, parents were eating children
   Great Flood is for final solution
   Atrahasis escapes flood
   Gods compromise and allow humans to live
    but limits their fertility
Cultural Methods
   Difficult to research
   Cannot connect them certainly to birth-
    control motives
   Sexual urges satisfied by sexual practices
    other then heterosexual intercourse
    – Fertility may be reduced
   Such practices:
    – Anal intercourse, oral intercourse, masturbation,
      withdrawal and homosexuality
   Area of contraceptive history almost
    totally neglected

   Modern science began to re-examine
    – Ancient women had mind or dream
      control over their fertility
   Varied barriers to passage of sperm
   Expulsion of sperm from body after
   Douches
   Other physical/mechanical anti-fertility
Physical/Mechanical Methods
   Barrier methods make little sense until
    women are aware of the role of seminal
    fluid in conception
   Dahomey women of West Africa – tubercle
    root pulp as vaginal plug
   Bapinda women of Central Africa – used
    rags and chopped grass
   American slave women used sponges to
    prevent pregnancy
Physical/Mechanical Methods
   Oils, gummy substances
    – Various thick, oily, or gummy substances
      used alone with spermicidal
   Karo-Bataks of Sumatra – used a small
    ball of opium into the vagina as a
Physical/Mechanical Methods
Cervical cap; internal sheath
   Japanese prostitutes applied disks of oiled
    paper to the cervix
   Casanova recommended using half a lemon
    as a cervical cap
   Prokris’s invention: snipped the bladder of a
    goat and placed it in the vagina
   Djuka women: snipped off on end of an
    okra see pod and inserted it into the vagina
    – “vegetable condom”
Physical/Mechanical Methods
Chastity Belts
   Near Eastern Queen Semiramis
    invented it to keep female courtiers
    from gaining influence over her son

   Cheyenne Indian women used a
    chastity rope to signify unavailability
Physical/Mechanical Methods
   Where water alone was used, it was a
    physical method
   Where a spermicidal or other additive
    was used
   It would be a chemical or herbal
Physical/Mechanical Methods
Expulsion of Sperm
   Females are endowed with ejaculatory
    – It would expel the male seed
   Spasmic or rhythmic muscular movements
   Kgatta women of Africa used a drug to
    expel the semen
   This technique is looked down upon by birth
    control experts
Physical/Mechanical Methods
Deep Massage: Tipped Uterus
   Tipping uterus backward by strong
    abdominal massage
   Conception more difficult if the uterus
    is tipped far enough
    – Cervix can rise in vagina until its mouth is
      covered by opposite vaginal wall
   Extremely painful
Physical/Mechanical Methods
Intrauterine Devices
   Most vexed is the IUD
   Invented in 1909 by German doctor Richter
    – 1950s it was rediscovered
   Hippocrates's time, lead tubes filled with mutton fat
    where being inserted into the cervix and left there
   Women passed on own contraceptives
    – Mother to daughter, midwife to client, wise woman to
   Japanese women inserted a dry plug of seaweed
    (Laminaria) into cervix
    – It expanded as it absorbed moisture
    – Gradually dilated the cervix and brought on an abortion
Herbal or Chemical Method
   Douches became chemical when they contained
    spermicidal ingredients
    – Rare among primitive women
    – Not very effective
   Douches are difficult to inject solutions into the
    vagina far enough
   Physico-chemical are most effective before modern
   Barrier plus spermicidal was the sea sponge soaked
    in sperm killing agents
    – One improvement was the attached string
Herbal or Chemical Method
Chemical Pessaries
   Suppositories or pessaries in which a
    gummy substance would be inserted
    into the vagina

   Achehnese women of Sumatra use a
    black mass in the form of a pill
    – Inserted before coitus
Herbal or Chemical Method
Oral Contraceptives
   Usually herbs or herbal preparations
    – Using local flowers
   In Hippocratic writings, a potion called
    misy was produced for a year’s sterility
   Yao women used plant sap
   Shawnee Indian girls drank the juice
    of a certain herb
Herbal or Chemical Method
Oral Contraceptives
   Inca women grew stenomessum varietum in
    their gardens as a contraceptive
    – Intercourse between upper-class and a
      commoner was a capital offense
   Fijian women make a remedy like the
    “morning after pill”
    – Peeled roots and bruised leaves of a roqa tree
   Many of the contraceptives were poisons
Cyclical and Rhythm
   Methods relying on a safe period for intercourse
    – Unsuccessful for modern women

   Dr. Evelyn Billing created the Billings Method,
    – Works when a woman is fertile each month during the 100
      hrs. surrounding ovulation
    – Cervical mucus changes while fertile period approaches
    – When used correctly, 98.5% effective

   Some women ovulate more than once a month
Cyclical and Rhythm
   Gerald and Selmaree Oster developed
    Body Aware System
    – Oster’s test
          A sheet of paper dipped into urine or saliva
           changes color in response to high estrogen
Surgical Methods

   Ovarotomy for contraception
    – Women who have had it have a mark or
      scar on the side above the hip
    – Western observers assumed they
      removed the ovaries

   Earliest surgery in many cultures
19th Century
   Emeline Bringham (1867)
    – Patented and improved pessary
    – It’s an intrauterine or intravaginal device
19th Century
Vaginal syringes: contraceptive douching

   Anna Palmer (1879) – patented concealed uterine
    cauterizes and vaginal syringes
   Laura Adams of NY (1881) – patented a vaginal
   Elizabeth Holcombe of NY (1881) – patented a
    vaginal irrigator or urinal
    – Bidet-like device for post-coital douches
19th Century
Cervical Cap
   Unnamed German midwife place, after
    delivery, a foreign body in front of the
   It was actually invented a thousand
    years ago but rediscovered
19th Century
   Dr. Aletta Jacobs helped develop the
    vulcanized rubber diaphragm
   Greatest advance in birth control since
    the condom
   Two advantages
    – Approved by doctors
    – Once prescribed under the control of
19th Century
Perennial Sponge
   Annie Besant (1870s)
    – Soaked a sponge in quinine solution and
      inserted into the vagina before
20th Century
   Margaret Sanger – coined the term birth
    – Founded the 1st doctor staffed birth control clinic
      in U.S.
          Birth Control Clinical Research Bureau in NY
          Developed inexpensive contraceptive jelly
   Marie Carmichael Stopes – educated
    women about sex, conception and
    – Found England’s 1st birth control clinic
20th Century
Rational Methods
   Hannah Stone (1930s) – combined
    diaphragm with spermicidal jellies
    – Diaphragm comes loose during intercourse
   Dr. Connie Chambers Harris – found that
    the dosage in Birth control is too strong
    – The pill has lower dosages of hormones now
   Marjorie Murray (1974) – invented and
    patented a pillbox with timer and buzzer
    – Personal Pill Reminder
20th Century
Male Contraception
   Dr. Martha Voegli – devised a technique
    for men
    – 3 weeks of daily 45 minute baths in 116°F
    – Make men sterile for 6 months
   Barbara Seaman (1978) – suggested
    condoms to be made in small, medium and
    – Labeled Jumbo, Colossal, and Supercolossal to
      ease the males ego

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