1. Oral Contraceptives And Abortifacients
A contraceptive prevents conception from ever happening, while an abortifacient terminates a fertilized egg. Many of the lotions, potions, pastes, and herbs listed here were supposedly capable of doing both.
Of the many sick items that women have allegedly taken into their mouths to prevent or terminate pregnancy, drinking mercury would likely be the sickest. Women in ancient China supposedly drank it hot immediately after sex. Sometimes they swallowed it along with sixteen fried tadpoles. This would sometimes terminate pregnancy. It would also lead to sterility, paralysis, brain damage, kidney failure, and death.
In the 2nd century AD, a Greek physician named Soranus—I will now pause to allow Beavis and Butt-head to laugh—recommended that women drink the lead-laden water that blacksmiths would use to cool metal. Supposedly women volunteered to work in lead-smelting factories all the way up to World War I in their never-ending quest not to get knocked-up.
Other ill-advised toxic potions included urine, copper sulfate, arsenic, and strychnine.
A northern African herb known as Silphium is now extinct because Romans ate it out of existence due to its presumed contraceptive and abortifacient properties. Other herbs and fungi alleged throughout the ages to contain such powers include pennyroyal, Queen Anne’s lace, willow, date palm, blue cohosh, dong quai, rue, foxglove, and ergot.
A special shout-out goes to Canadian aboriginals, who’d drink tea made from ground beaver testicles in the belief that it would prevent or end pregnancy. In more modern times they have allegedly added alcohol to the mix in what is known as a “beavertini.”