No, I’m not talking about half of the male writers for Thought Catalog, myself included—I mean concoctions meant to flush the vagina free of sperm in a last-ditch effort to prevent conception or terminate pregnancy.
Native American women—often disparagingly referred to as “squaws” or “Injun chicks”—attempted to steam sperm out of their hoo-hahs using “a special kettle.” Other douches used by different cultures included vinegar, seawater, and nearly anything believed to be acidic.
In the early 1800s, Dr. Charles Knowlton encouraged douching via syringes—at the time fashioned of primitive items such as horns or bones—using liquid compounds containing things such as zinc sulfite and liquid chloride. Sometime after Charles Goodyear burst onto the scene in the mid-1800s, everyone put down the horned and bony syringes in favor of rubber ones.
In the early part of the 20th century, Lysol disinfectant—yes, LYSOL—was used as a liquid douche not only to prevent pregnancy but also to combat vaginal odor.
In the 1950s and 1960s, an urban legend emerged that women could abort their fertilized eggs by shaking up a bottle of Coca-Cola, inserting it in their vaginas, and letting it spray the carbonic acid all over the frightened sperm as they raced toward the woman’s egg. In the end, it only led to yeast infections.