A pessary, Gordon says, is “a version of a diaphragm.” It tightly covers the cervical opening of the uterus. Some, like this bronze Roman pessary dated between 200 B.C. and 400 C.E., were used to support the uterus.
Lemons, Sponges, and Other Old Forms of Birth Control
Pope Francis suggested that women in Zika-infected areas could turn to the age-old practice of birth control.
On Thursday, Pope Francis suggested that women who live in countries threatened by the Zika virus could use contraception, saying that “avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil”—a huge change from the church’s historic stance against one of the world’s oldest practices.
When people think of birth control, they often think of the modern pill. But there are many types of contraception, and they’ve been around for a very long time.
“People have been trying to control reproduction literally as long as there have been human societies,” says Irene Linda Gordon, author of Woman's Body, Woman's Right: Birth Control In America.
Take sponges, for example.
“Sponges have been used for thousands of years,” says Gordon. When placed over the cervix, these