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Revolutionary ConceptionsWomen, Fertility, and Family Limitation in America, 1760-1820$
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Susan E. Klepp

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780807833223

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807838716_Klepp

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Potions, Pills, and Jumping Ropes

Potions, Pills, and Jumping Ropes

The Technology of Birth Control

(p.179) 5 Potions, Pills, and Jumping Ropes
Revolutionary Conceptions

Susan E. Klepp

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter recovers some of the techniques of birth control and abortion available to women and to men in the eighteenth century. The medical advice directed at women of the time offers little that looks familiar to twenty-first-century eyes. There are few references to the use of barrier methods of contraception before the late eighteenth or early nineteenth centuries. References to coitus interruptus as a method of preventing conception often occur in the context of illicit sexual encounters, leading scholars to conclude that contraceptive practices were unthinkable for the majority of married couples. There is little evidence that sexual abstinence was ever widely practiced by married couples or that there was any comprehension of an infertile period during the menstrual cycle for most of the eighteenth century.

Keywords:   birth control, abortion, barrier methods, contraception, coitus interruptus

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