Birth prevention before the era of modern contraception

Population and Societies

418, December 2005

Only in the last two centuries have human beings started to practice effective family limitation. Methods of contraception and abortion have existed for much longer, but were not a part of everyday life. Etienne van de Walle examines those mentioned in three texts dating from different periods – a classical medical treatise, a libertine French document of the eighteenth century and a nineteenth century American marriage guide – to shed light on past methods and practices.

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