How did ancient prostitutes manage not being constantly pregnant without anti-contraceptives?

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Sorry, meant contraceptives, duh. Also, I’m aware that they did have mildly scientifically backed methods for preventing pregnancy, but pregnancies are a genuine concern for modern sex workers, right? Did just way more sex workers get pregnant way more often back then, or were there genuinely methods to make pregnancy avoidable enough to not have a kid once a year if you’re having sex that much?

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17 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

They had contraceptives. Roman medical books contain drawings of a plant (now extinct) that could be eaten as birth control. It was harvested to extinction. There are also natural spermicides. They’re not as good as the modern stuff, but they’re .. fine?

Abortion techniques are easy and common. The bible contains an abortion recipe. The methods for inducing abortion aren’t exactly difficult. They’re also not at all pleasant.

Oh, and plenty of people just killed the kids or left them in the woods to die. Life sucked.

Anonymous 0 Comments

They had contraceptives. And they also had access to abortion. And infanticide was widely practiced and legal pretty much everywhere until well into the modern age. Heck, my grandmother saved a 6th child (and a 5th girl) by secretly feeding her the first 3 days after parents left her exposed, and that was in 1950.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Ancient prostitutes employed various methods to avoid pregnancy, despite the lack of modern contraceptives. Some common practices included:

– Using herbal mixtures and emmenagogues (menstrual stimulants) that could induce abortions or make them sterile, such as silphium, Queen Anne’s lace, mugwort and periwinkle.[1][2] Prostitutes had good knowledge of these herbs.

– Physically extracting semen after intercourse by inserting fabric or sponges into the vagina to scrape it out, though this was not very effective.[1]

– Coitus interruptus (withdrawing before ejaculation), which was practiced in brothels and illicit affairs.[3]

– Using primitive barrier methods like animal intestine condoms or inserting stones or other objects into the uterus, an early form of IUD.[1]

However, unwanted pregnancies still occurred frequently among ancient prostitutes due to the lack of reliable contraception.[2] Some may have resorted to infanticide, as evidenced by the discovery of newborn remains near some brothels.[2] Overall, ancient prostitutes had limited options to prevent pregnancy compared to modern times.[1][2][3]

Citations:
[1] In early times, where brothels and prostitutes were a part of … – Reddit https://www.reddit.com/r/AskHistorians/comments/1j5nlr/in_early_times_where_brothels_and_prostitutes/
[2] Dead babies, brothels, contraception and presentist history | Berkeley https://news.berkeley.edu/2010/06/26/dead-babies-brothels-contraception-and-presentist-history
[3] Medieval contraception – Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medieval_contraception
[4] Sex and Labor in the Greco-Roman World – Project MUSE https://muse.jhu.edu/article/590338/summary
[5] The story of the condom – PMC – NCBI https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3649591/

Anonymous 0 Comments

Like many of the questions here. Your question makes an assumption which was not true. The ancient Egyptians had contraception. So did the Greeks and Romans. I am not sure but would be unsurprised if other societies had them.

The middle centuries of Europe involved a back slide in understanding of the natural world which would continue until the Renaissance.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Birth control, also known as contraception, is **the use of medicines, devices, or surgery to prevent pregnancy**. There are many different types. Some are reversable, while others are permanent. Some types can also help prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

*anti-contraception is against forms of birth control.*

Anonymous 0 Comments

They had contraceptives and abortions back then. Perhaps not as reliable as modern medicine, but they existed.

Sometimes they just had the babies, too.

Anonymous 0 Comments

I would have thought anal sex would have been a common method but it hasn’t been mentioned in the comments yet.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Anyone wanna give me a rundown of how they staved off STIs? *Did they?*

Anonymous 0 Comments

Something some are not quite mentioning is a bit darker: not all prostitutes were so by choice, maybe they were taken from a village after a raid or a city lost a battle, and it wasn’t exactly a priority to keep them from becoming pregnant.

Anonymous 0 Comments

What’s an anti-contraceptive? Not pulling out?