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How did the prostitutes prevent pregnancies in the early days?

asked Mar 22, 2012 in Discussions by Kela (350 points)
edited Mar 24, 2012 by Anjali

Dear users,

I am a boy of 18  years old. I am not putting a problem before you,but I wanted to discuss with you on this topic:

The other day I was thinking about the period before the invention of condoms,contraceptive pills,etc. Then I suddenly found out that I couldn't answer myself the question that how might have the prostitutes prevented pregnancy before the invention of condoms or the contraceptive pills and other contraceptive methods?

We know that prostitutes existed from time immemorial,but how perhaps did the prostitutes around the world and in India managed not to become pregnant,say,before and after 1800 A.D.,even after entertaining uncountable customers a week?

Dear users,Please throw some light on this matter.

commented Mar 24, 2012 by longhands1 (82,115 points)
You have asked about the Indian context in your comment. Shall try to answer this.
Prostitution in India can be traced back to archaeological findings of the Indus Valley. The bronze figure of dancing girl from Mohenjodaro represents a sacred prostitute carrying out her duties within the precincts of the temple of some mother goddess and this cult was quite well established in the Indus Valley Civilization.

In the Vedic Age, texts like the Rig Veda mentions the unmarried woman for sale. Rigveda mentions the word sadbarani, which refers to a woman who offers sex for payment. In Vedic times, most prostitutes seem to have dressed in red, even their gold jewellery was reddened as this hue was assumed to scare away demons and give protection to those who chose to live in a moral grey zone.

Vatsyana’s Kama Sutra is the most important source of information about courtesans and prostitution in ancient India . He states that dance is the key requirement for a prostitute. Kautilya’s Arthashastra (32O B.C-150 B.C) contains rules on of how prostitutes should behave and how their lives be ordered. He makes a distinction between prostitution and trafficking and emphasizes the absolute necessity of the willingness and consent of the prostitute to engage in a sexual relationship.

Valmiki in his epic Ramayana gives a legendary account of birth of Apsaras, divine prostitutes. He states that prostitutes were employed by King Romapada. These prostitutes employed by the state were of superior ganika class, proficient in various arts. In addition to ganikas, Valmiki also mentions rupajivas. The latter generally accompanied the royal army obviously to provide entertainment to the soldiers.

In Mahabharata courtesans of Indara Puri have been vividly depicted. Mahabharata has recorded the name of forty two apsaras in all. The stars amongst heavenly courtesans are Urvashi, Menaka, Tilottama, Rambha and Ghritachee. In an incident, Arjuna went once to heaven to pay a visit to Indra who is said to has been his defacto father. To satisfy the suspected salacity of his son, he requested Urvashi through Gandharva Chitrasen to entertain Arjuna for night.

Kalidasa's ‘Meghadhoot’ , describes prostitutes dancing and waving flywhisks at a Shiva temple, which dates back to the 4th century.

The Mughal Empire (1526 -1857) also witnessed prostitution. The word “tawaif” and mujra became common during this era. During the Mughal era, prostitution had a strong nexus with performing arts. Mughals patronized prostitution which raised the status of dancers and singers to higher levels of prostitution. Jahangir’s harem had 6,000 mistresses which denoted authority, wealth and power.

The Devadasi system of attaching prostitutes to a place of worship is of ancient origin.  Devadasi literally means God’s (Dev) female servant (Dasi). According to ancient Indian practice, young pre-pubertal girls are ‘married off’, ‘given away’ in matrimony to God or Local religious deity of the temple. The marriage usually occurs before the girl reaches puberty and requires the girl to become a prostitute for upper-caste community members. They are forbidden from entering into a real marriage. The rise and fall in the status of devadasis can be seen to be running parallel to the rise and fall of Hindu temples.

Prostitution in India traces its origins to the beginnings of civilisation in the sub-continent and continues in modern India

Oye, this is dedicated to your love for History.
Khurram Kamal, please dont read this as History does not seem to fancy you.

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5 Answers

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In ancient Egypt, they advised plugging the vagina with gum, a mixture of honey and sodium carbonate, or a paste of crocodile dung mixed with sour milk. Honey or gum would certainly have reduced the motility of the sperm. A recipe from theEbers Papyrus, which dates from about 1525 BC, gave the following method: "To make a woman not become pregnant for one year, two years or three years,acacial leaves are gound fine with honey, lint is moistened therewith and placed in her vulva."
Greek and Roman medical writers give a variety of different recipes for contraception. In the fourth century BC, the philosopher Aristotle noted that women of histime who did not wish to conceive would"anoint that part of the womb on which the seed falls with oil of cedar, ointment of lead, or frankincense commingled with olive oil." The application of oil, and particularly olive oil, makes perfect sense:the motility of sperm would have been reduced considerably. Inthe Western world this contraceptive property of olive oil was rediscovered by Marie Stopes, a modern pioneer of contraception. She madea study of the contracpetive propertiesof olive oil (applied to the vagina) and in 1938 she published the results of a series of controlled tests, reporting a zero failure rate for this mehtod.
In Roman times the physicians Disocorides (c.AD 40-80) and Galen (AD 129-199) listed around a dozen plants that acted as oral contraceptives. These include asfetida, juniper,pennyroyal, "squirting cucumber" and Queen Anne's lace (wild cucumber)
An laternative approach to contraception was tried by the Jews. Rabbisof the third to fifth centuries AD refer to theinsertion of a sponge into the vagina. This would have absorbed the semen and so prevented contraception. The use of sponges was not advocated again until 1832, by Charles Knowlton, the American pioneer of contraception, and has only very recently become a standard method, used in conjunction with a spermicide.
The first cedrtain description of a condomis found in a work of theItralian anatomist Fallopius, published in 1564. He claims to have invented the use of smalllinen sheaths, to be placed behind the foreskin, as a way of avoiding syphilis. The general feeling of experts on the subject isthat Fallopius's inventionwas a refinement of an earlier device, but the whole matter remains shrouded in mystery. One theory has it that condoms were already in use in the Middle Ages.
And medieval and early modern household manuals, which always have large medical sections, contain recipesto 'bring on a woman's courses' which may have been used as abortificants, though there is no proof of this (they could just have been intended as cures for irregular periods.)
'ANCIENT INVENTIONS' by Peter James and Nick Thorpe
page 1441 to 1522
answered Mar 23, 2012 by land crusier (3,145 points)
selected Mar 24, 2012 by Anjali
commented Mar 23, 2012 by Kela (350 points)
edited Mar 24, 2012 by longhands1
Thank you land cruiser,for the information,for taking such a great effort. Can you tell me something about the Indian context? And again,if they plugged their vagina,then how did they have the intercourse?

Converted to a comment. As the questioner cannot answer his own question!!
commented Mar 23, 2012 by land crusier (3,145 points)
edited Mar 23, 2012 by land crusier
Plugging vagina with the mixture honey sodium carbonate and gum to be placed in vagina so that the sperms cannot travel to cervix to fuse with ovum. I think so. The paste is moistened therewith and placed in her vulva. Such tampons would have functioned as contraceptives, since acacia gum contains lactic acid, a highly effective spermicide.
I read very limited about Indian prostitutes.
Indians used a variety of birth control methods since ancient times, including a potion made of powdered palm leaf and red chalk , as well as vaginal suppositories made of honey , ghee , rock salt or the seeds of palasa tree.
Source Ratirahasya 'secret of love' 12th chapter.
Other things I read about Indian prostitute that they used lemon (semi circular portion) as a diagraph and also the juice of certain fruits such as lemon juice who's PH value is acidic in nature to kill sperms, they belived so. In the later period not sure when, they invented condoms not the latex one but one made by inner linning of stomach of sheep. And those who got pregnant usually gave up their kids.  Source 'Science of Ancient India' by S.G Gupta.
commented Mar 23, 2012 by land crusier (3,145 points)
As Oye sir said ancient people were depend on aryuvedic herber. Not only these herbs can prevented pregnancy. They can treat irregular periods, and even STDs. Some herbs have been mentionedfor centuries. One is a plant called the ****  whose root is used to cause an abortion. It is telling that it was also known as"prostitute’s root" historically.
commented Mar 23, 2012 by dan (2,350 points)
Fantastic reply land crusier, keep it up buddy
commented Mar 23, 2012 by oye (25,670 points)
Kudos Land Crusier bro. Its simply great to see there are other nuts like me who has interest to read these ancient books. Those are 100s years old still masterpiece to read.
commented Mar 23, 2012 by land crusier (3,145 points)
Thank you Dan and Oye. These book are really masterpiece. One can learn and discover a lot of things by reading these golden era books.
0 like 0 dislike
well most of them did not prevent it,many of them did have children,and even though they did not have the current contraceptives they knew their reproductive system.They knew when they had their periods and when not to indulge.But in ancient roman times many slaves were used as prostitutes and were purposefully made pregnant do give birth to new slaves.i guess we should respect how far women have come up socially
answered Mar 22, 2012 by parik89 (2,190 points)
commented Mar 22, 2012 by Kela (350 points)
moved Mar 22, 2012 by dan
Thanks for the answer,Parik!
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Not sure dude mean time they will use ayurvadik prevention may be on that time saint was very powerfull they have sharp knowldeg about the desiease. I heard medicin may be failure but ayurvad never fail and no side effect.
answered Mar 22, 2012 by kingmyaqueen (1,945 points)
0 like 0 dislike
Fantastic reply Land cruiser.  Good things to learn, will take my time to read through this.

As I know the history, contraception is an old topic, ages old topic and being practised for ages in different culture in different way. My reply cann't be a real good one here, just trying to touch the topic. The reason is, its not a question that helps anyone, rather than its a discussion which we can write opinion and gives no productive result at all.

As I said, every culture had own effort and way. For ages people thought about different position to ejoy sex, as well as different position which gives a better conceiving result. Side ways, what can give better non-conceiving result. One hand the experiment with different Ayurveda was being applied, on the other which position doesnot result a conceiving.

I cant go back to such long history as Land Cruiser have mentioned. But let me quote something which I saw in News. When Ravan was taking Sita in his "Biman" to Lanka, Sita had a headache, Ravan gave him some medicine. Sita didnot accept that and threw that from the "Biman" which fell on some of the hills in current Srilanka. A few of these are still available and kept with utter cautious as a good luck charm, all are in Sri Lanka. This is called "Sita Goli".  When this were tested in lab, it was sound as total ayurvedic mix.  I am talking on pills for headache here. Lets talk on non-conceiving.pill.  My only logical conclusion is, the same might have been applicable in old days, Ayurveda. People know God made the world with everything that is required in this way or that. The plants has its purpose, and human brain can find the right way to get the right combination by using plants.  Beside the sex position which are less productive in conceiving, possiblly the Ayurveda was the other solution.

Anyway, its my opinion, nothing more. But I dont find this to be an amusing question to discuss as it doesnot have any question value. Whetehr Land Cruiser has any time to explain, its upto him. I sure dont find a reason how what is pugged in and in what region.
answered Mar 23, 2012 by oye (25,670 points)
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I think you are a good history student.But this question will never be asked in your history its better to leave it.concentrate on other issues for improving your knowledge.
answered Mar 23, 2012 by Khurram kamal (610 points)

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