The Crazy WTF Advice That Women Have Been Given About Their Vaginas Throughout History
If you thought vagina glitter bombs and yoni steaming were weird things people have done to their vajayjays, just wait until you hear the bizarre things women have been told to do with them throughout history! Buckle in, this one is going to be a bumpy ride and certainly isn’t for the faint of heart.
How to Perform a Pregnancy Test
Thanks to Hippocrates, ancient Greeks believed that between a woman’s mouth and vagina ran a kind of tube that linked the two. Therefore, in order to test for pregnancy, women were advised to place wool that had been soaked in oil of bitter almonds or garlic cloves into their vagina. The next day if the scent could be smelt on their breath, they were pregnant! And there you were, spending a fortune at the chemist on plastic sticks to pee on! If only you’d known!
How to Induce Labour
Believe it or not, the ancient Egyptians came up with some interesting home remedies for inducing labour, namely stuffing weird concoctions including honey-soaked hemp or handfuls of ground corn into the vagina.But hey, no judgement! We get it. By the time we got to our last week of pregnancy we would have tried anything to get that baby moving too!
How to Cure an Itch, Yeast Infection or a Sexually Transmitted Infection
According to Trotula, a medieval medical text from Italy, the best way to cure anything from an itch to a yeast infection or an STI was to create a pessary made from egg whites and mothballs and insert it into the affected area! Eeeek!
How to Cure Infertility
During the 16th century, French Queen Catherine da Medici turned to folk remedies in order to remedy her infertility. This consisted of drinking the urine of a mayor and soaking her vagina in a sack of cow manure mixed with ground stag’s antlers. It’s little wonder her husband preferred his mistress. Just saying!
But cow dung and urine might possibly be an improvement on an earlier recipe by Hippocrates. Back in 300-something BC, the Greek physician recommended applying a mixture of red nitre, cumin, resin and honey to a woman’s cervix to cure infertility. Whilst historians aren’t in agreement over what the red nitre is that he was referring to, experts think that it could be either potassium nitrate (which is used in pickling corned beef and the making of fireworks and gunpowder) or to soda ash, which is what Egyptians used to mummify people and which taxidermist still use today. Those ground stag antler’s aren’t sounding too bad after all!
How to Cure Menstrual Issues
We wouldn’t want to have had ‘menstrual afflictions’ back in the 1800s that’s for sure! If you went to the doctor with your complaints, you would have likely had leeches placed on your upper thighs, vulva and maybe even directly onto your cervix. True the leeches saliva has special anaesthetized agents so you wouldn’t feel the bite but it’s still a hard pass on this one for us!
Similarly for light periods, the Trotula’s recommendation was to ‘bleed the woman from the arch on the inside of her foot.’
How to Groom Your Nether Regions
If you thought removing pubic hair was a relatively new trend, you’d be very much mistaken. Too much hair on women has long been considered unattractive, and even manly. Lacking any disposable Bic razors, women in the 1500’s mixed up all kinds of bizarre concoctions in order to burn their hair off, including cat dung, vinegar and even arsenic.
A typical depilatory recipe, republished in historian Rebecca M. Herzig’s Plucked: A History of Hair Removal, reads as follows:
“Take new burnt Lime four ounces, of Arseneck an ounce, steepe both these in a pint of water the space of two days, and then boyle it in a pint to a half. And to prove whether it be perfect, dipped a feather therein, and if the plume of the feather depart off easily, then it it is strong enough[…]”
Don’t try this at home folks! Of course, exposure to toxic recipes containing arsenic often resulted in less than pleasant symptoms such as diarrhoea, nausea and even death. But hey, at least they weren’t hairy!
How to Clean Your Vagina
When it comes to advice on how best to clean your vagina, Gwyneth Paltrow’s ‘V-steam’ has got nothing on the Trotula. That’s right, the same medical text that brought us eggy-mothball tampons, also suggested “fumigating the vagina with a mixture of burned marsh mallow, barley flour, and egg whites” to bring on a late period, and give it a good ol’ fashioned clean out! Nice!
How to Cure Fatigue, Anxiety and Depression
During the Victorian era, if you were suffering from fatigue, anxiety or depression, doctors would more than likely diagnose you with ‘hysteria.’ The cure for hysteria was an orgasm, which was induced by the doctor himself, by performing a pelvic massage on the sufferer. However, far from enjoying their work, doctors who had to perform these pelvic massages by hand, often for up to an hour, would complain of wrist ache. Hence the invention of an electromechanical vibrator! Feel free to treat your own hysteria at will ladies!
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