Birth Control in Fantasy Fiction | World Building Guide

Birth Control in Fantasy Fiction | World Building Guide


Ladies and gents I’m about to make you
love the 21st century so freaking hard I did way back a video on birth control
in the apocalypse (if you want to check that out link in the description down
below also card up here) and a couple people requested that I cover the
fantasy side of things so that’s what we’re doing today and that involves
taking a little look into historical birth control methods which it turns out
we’re pretty freakin horrible so first I’m gonna cover the historical and then
I’m gonna cover some magical creative options you can use. Now quick writing
disclaimer you should keep your mention of birth control pretty small. We like
some explanation but you don’t need to get super specific. So here are the top
11 historical forms of birth control and I’m going to count the list backwards
cuz that’s what we’re doing now. so historical birth control method number
11 (I don’t have enough fingers) lead mercury or other toxic things. It turns out this
is actually extremely effective. Why? Cuz you can’t get pregnant if you’re dead.
Game of Thrones used tansy which is an herb which used frequently or in high
amounts would lead to your internal organs literally rotting away and I
don’t think you want that for your characters. Method number 10 (this one
sounds really funny) lemon diaphragm. surprisingly this
actually kind of worked. Not well of course cuz you’re just
chopping off the top of a lemon and just shoving it up inside yourself. But it
actually did work a little bit and that’s mainly just because lemon juice
works as a spermicide because it’s highly acidic and I guess the top of the
lemon could potentially keep a little bit of the sperm out but given in
current modern day we’ve kind of stopped using diaphragms because even the
plastic diaphragms are not very effective I’m gonna go ahead and guess
that a lemon diaphragm does not work much better. Also that just sounds kind
of uncomfortable. I’m pretty sure that sticking
lemon juice all up in your private parts would not be a very fun time. Method
number nine this one comes from 1800 BCE in Egypt and this one is a lovely mix of
crocodile dung and honey. So it’s also used in India except they
use elephant dung cuz I guess they didn’t have enough crocodiles around and you
can just substitute any kind of dung you want I guess. It sounds really ridiculous
but it actually worked stupidly well. The concoction worked as a
spermicide due to its acidic properties. So it actually did prevent a lot of
pregnancies but I don’t recommend you use this in your fantasy book because we
can’t really get behind our ship getting it off what all we can think about is
the horrible yeast infections that the main character is gonna get from all
that honey in her vagina. Also the crocodile dung is a little bit gross.
It’s also worth mentioning that this method seems to have cropped up all over
the world all over history always with honey but always with a different type
of dung and although the crocodile version worked in large part because of
acidity a lot of the other versions actually worked because it turns out
when you get a horrible uterine infection you generally have a septic
abortion and you lose the child so technically the other forms were
effective but not in a very pretty way. Method 9.5 I just realized this doesn’t
work very well when you’re counting and reversed because that is counting back
the other direction rather than downwards but we’re gonna go with it and
i’m calling this one crocodile dung 2.0 This less exciting method took honey and
instead of mixing it with crocodile dung mixed it with *tries and fails to pronounce the word Acacia* Acacia leaves or unripe fruit which was then put on a cotton ball or lint
and inserted into the vagina. This came in Egypt in 1600 BCE so this was the
evolved version of the plain crocodile dung method and this worked because acacia gum ferments into lactic acid which is a spermicide. Method number
eight this is a Greek and Roman method which involved mixing olive oider… olive oider… Why do I keep saying oider? Olive oil,
cedar resin, basam tree juice, and honey. I don’t know why honey was so commonly
used in these birth controls but seems to be a very common ingredient. This
mixture was also sometimes mixed with lead which again is very effective
because it can cause death but even without the lead it was said that this
decreased the motility of sperm giving the woman time to go rinse out
all her lady bits. I’m not sure how effective that actually was we don’t
have a lot of data but I’m gonna guess not that great. Method number seven this
was started by ancient Egyptians who seemed to be involved in a lot of birth
control methods and then later crops up all over history in different forms
this one is vaginal fumigation. Doesn’t that sound lovely? So a vaginal
fumigation a woman would straddle hot stones and drip an herb solution on them so
that the steam could go up into their vagina and supposedly prevent pregnancy
sometimes they used a tube and later in history people use things like steamed
onions so they crouched over a pot of boiling onions. Method number six dick
squeezing yeah that was a thing. This was sort of an early half-assed almost
approximation to men getting sniped I guess. The theory was that if you press
hard enough on the vas deferens you prevent anything from getting out and
thus theoretically prevent pregnancy. This was probably terribly useless at
that point you could just pull out which doesn’t actually work .Method number five
animal intestine or linen tied onto the dick with a ribbon. The ribbon is a nice
little touch and this was the ancients equivalent of plastic wrap kept on with
a rubber band. Laugh all you want but I legit know a guy who tried this. Not with
me, with someone else. But I had a friend who tried this and it turns out
it works 100% because the rubber band cut off all the blood to his dick which
then went numb which kind of ruins the mood. I like to imagine that slapping
on an animal intestine probably does the same thing but this was actually one of
the more innovative forms of birth control that was used in history that’s
cuz they were actually quite a bit effective not for preventing STDs as
condoms do today because of what molecules could and couldn’t get through
the barrier of the intestine but sperm couldn’t get through so it was at least
useful for preventing pregnancy. Now that’s a sausage. Method number four this
one is really fun I think we should bring this one back.
Method number four is sneezing. Yeah that was one. Sneeze the sperm out. I
don’t think I need to go any further into this because the Greek gynecologist
(Serranos) who suggested this didn’t feel the need to explain it any further
either he just told women to sneeze. Sorry I messed that up
he told women to hold their breath and then sneeze. Method number three stepping
over a Viper. I don’t think any women actually try
this I like to imagine that they realized that that was not a very useful
form of birth control but this was suggested by a Roman scholar by the name
of Gaius secundus and was actually written into a science book that he
wrote. This scholar also had the very strong belief that menstruating women
killed bees. I don’t know where that came from
but on the other hand getting bit by a Viper would probably induce abortion so
there’s that but if that’s the angle you’re going for I’m pretty sure
drinking mercury would be easier than going out into the forest and trying to
find a Viper. Method number two sticks and bones and
no they were not used to break men’s stones though that would have also been
an effective method of birth control. These sticks and bones were instead used
to shove up into the uterus to induce abortion. Now as someone who knows from
experience how much it hurts to get an IUD inserted by a medical professional
in the 21st century I’m not even gonna go into details for this method. And last
but not least historical birth control method number one
this one is my favorite and that is weasel testicles. Women would tie weasel
testicles around their neck or leg or around a pretty little garter belt and
this was probably about 60% effective because about 60% of men would not touch a
woman wearing a necklace of weasel testicles and can you blame him? I
wouldn’t expose my testicles to a confirmed testicle harvester. And then
the one useful truly useful historical method of birth control which doesn’t
get a number in this list because I didn’t add a number in the script and so
it’s just off here on its own but it deserves to be on its own because it’s
the only one that was truly good and this is Silphium which was a greek form
of birth control. This worked both abortion and prevention either as juice
drunken once a month or soaked onto cotton which was then inserted into the
vagina. There is an actual confirmed extreme drop in birth rate at the time
that the Greeks started using this. It’s effective it’s not disgusting it’s not
weird and it doesn’t even cause death. Now we can’t test the plant to find out
the actual scientific effectiveness of it as a birth control method because it
worked so well that it was aggressively over harvested and went extinct. Good job
ancient Greek people. This was actually so heavily worshipped probably because
of its extreme effectiveness and not being disgusting that it was actually put on
coins. Imagine a penny but instead of Lincoln’s head on it there was an IUD.
I’m not saying it’s weird but it’s kind of weird. There were some other plants
that were used with less historically shown drops in birth rates and these
plants include Queen Anne’s lace, willow, date palm, pomegranate, penny Royale,
Artemisia, Muir, and roue. Some of these plants work just because they’re toxic
but Queen Anne’s lace specifically is actually confirmed to have some anti
fertility properties when used immediately after sex and is actually
still used in India today so overall from my research on historical birth
control methods Silphium seems to be the only
really good option so good that they went and killed it which is just kind of really sad.
It’s pretty clear that the vast majority of those aren’t things you can use in
your fantasy story so let’s instead cover some magical options. Method number seven
magic spells or liquid control. Fetus deletus? No? Okay? How about accio
sperm? More acceptable but possibly more messy for the user. In terms of the
liquid control one there is actually a book that did it and that is symphony of
Ages where Ash the main character uses his ability to control liquid to keep
his sperm from entering the woman’s body. Now I haven’t read that book so I
don’t know how well that actually reads in the context of a book but it was used.
Number six an amulet or another magical object. Maybe an amulet containing the
souls of a hundred ball-less weasels? No? I mean you don’t have to specify that
the souls are of weasels. You could always go the vague route. But this is a
fairly common one used in fantasy. Method number five potions made out of the
ground-up testicles of beavers. Wait… This one belongs in the historical section.
Yes, Canada had a thing against weasels or
beavers however you choose to look at it. So they threw out the weasels and went
with beaver balls instead and being the clever little things that they were
they decided consumption was a better method than tying the balls around one’s
leg and it actually turns out it was a little bit effective because of the
testosterone in the Beavers balls I guess. Number four magical sterility like
how the female vampires in Twilight were supposedly sterile because their bodies
stay exactly how they were when they die or whatever. Now can we pause a moment
cuz I’ve always had a super annoying question about that what about the women
who died pregnant do they just stay pregnant forever does the baby inside them become a vampire how does that work? I don’t know if I actually want answers.
But yeah magical sterility is a common method of birth control in fantasy
novels either through characters that have some sort of curse or characters
that are unable to reproduce because of whatever magical
group they fall into. For example in Witcher the witcher’s are sterile
because of deliberate mutations that they went through to become witchers.
Method number three the he’s from this magical other species and there’s no
historical record of pregnancy ever working between those magical other
species and this plain human girl method otherwise called chromosome mismatch. If your one character is human and your other characters some other kind of
species like elves or dwarfs or whatever and they happen to have a different
chromosome number you can use this also if there’s some other sort of incompatibility to where they wouldn’t be able to reproduce you can also use this.
Remember if you use this once you can’t magically have them have a
baby later because reasons. Method number two magical control over one’s body.
Sadly humans don’t have this but there are actually animals that do. Certain
rodents can hold their uterus hostage until the male has shown them a good
time and a lion heard… heard? Is heard the right word? Lion pride. A lioness with
Cubs which take about 25 weeks to rear can magically (seemingly magically) not
get pregnant despite having sex also in times where a new male has taken over,
the female’s body will delay ovulation for a time likely to ensure that the new
male can keep his position as leader before she commits to him. Now this
probably isn’t in any way a conscious decision on the part of the lioness but
if your character can actively sprout wings or heal a gash in the manner of an
hour you can get away with saying that she can control her ovulation and this
is actually used in the Dragonera series. Magical fantasy method of birth control
number one is divine intervention and this is where the woman can only get
pregnant if she says a prayer or lights a candle or whatever. The biologist
in me cringes here. I know it’s magic, I get it, but how was
anyone born before they had language or the knowledge of these deities or
candles? Like I have so many questions. I don’t like this one. Kushiel’s Legacy
does this. They had to pray to their God and light a candle
and ask the God to open up their womb and again I ask you how was anyone born
before the time when candles were invented? So yes this one is widely
accepted but I cannot personally endorse it. And now for my conclusion and what I
think is probably your best option to go with for writing birth control in
fantasy. Potions or concoctions made from herbs.
I mean you’ve made up this entire fantasy world so inventing a plant
really isn’t that much of a stretch its perfectly believable and then just have
your characters turn that plant into a potion or a tea. You could say they drink
it once a month or that they drink it right after sex. I personally like tea
here because they can carry the dry leaves around with them all they need is
hot water the leaves won’t go bad you can even make it readily available for
wild romps in the forest and best of all it doesn’t read as unrealistic because
again we had Silphium back in Greek times which was an actual wild herb that
people would drink once a month and it worked as a form of birth control and
maybe it’s one of the more common methods but it’s also tried and tested
and when it comes to birth control you just need a tiny line telling your
readers that that’s something you considered and something that your
characters are responsible enough to consider. It doesn’t need to be super
innovative. And yeah that was it for this video.
If you write post- apocalyptic or dystopian then check out the video links
in the description down below if you liked this video or you found it helpful
make sure to give it a like and share it really helps this channel grow and i
truly appreciate it. Remember to subscribe and hit that bell and thank
you guys so much for watching as always I will see you in the next video!

16 thoughts on “Birth Control in Fantasy Fiction | World Building Guide

  1. Idk why you re-uploaded but both videos are hilarious and informative! I'll just say I took some notes ✍✍✍

  2. Lmao oh damn, I wasn't even aware for most of these historical ones, especially the GoT method of baby prevention. Silphium is the inspiration for my form of birth control in my High Fantasy novel. It is a herb that you make into tea and drink it just before you have sex, or at least not pee for awhile until you do lol, but like you said, the women can carry the plant around wherever they go but they can only get the plant from another country. Thank you so much for this vid Megan πŸ˜€

  3. That last one from Greece, actually Rome too I believe, went extinct because after the fall of Rome there was no one to regulate its harvesting, and it was finicky as hell to grow, and so people literally used it into extinction.

  4. Divine intervention could work better there other way; appease a God with a simple sacrifice (no language required) or ask for a baby (lots of historical and modern attempts) or permission for one. Makes more sense if it only applies to members of a fertility cult, the clergy, or some such, and wouldn't affect non-believers.

  5. Haha this video is awesome. Some of these had me chuckling so much. Potions and herbs is my go-to method in my novels.

    Thanks for this! πŸ˜€

  6. omg halfway through i started taking pictures of my reactions to these methods. I had no idea my face was so expressive

  7. I literally gasped out loud when I heard that tanzi made your internal organs rot away! That is terrifying! I'll just take the baby or not do it ahhh!

    Who thought to put dung up their hoo-ha in the first place?!

    The animal intestine is actually not that surprising, they used to make balls (like for soccer) out of intestines.

    Sneezing 10/10

    Silphium sounds really interesting! I'm so glad that you told us of this, and I'm definitely interested in including things such as this. And that coin is so funny XD Sad that it's extinct though…

  8. The variety of infections one could develop with some of these is just…ERG!!! Not trying to go full TMI, but I know someone who was prone to a lot of bladder infections and she says whenever she sneezes she accidentally wets her panties (so sad, I feel so bad for her), so if sneezing can cause some people to have incontinence then maybe one could squirt out some sperm too. I can only imagine that this is how ancient Greeks came to this conclusion and why it may have been so accepted. Ancient peoples had some very simple, and often useless ideas.

    12:24 I asked my sis-in-law this same question! She had no answer. But, becoming a vampire while pregnant and remaining so for all eternity could make a really interesting drama.

    14:40 or divine intervention for abortions. Like, sacrifice a goat to summon the demon lord, and of course the demon lord does his thing because maybe he's getting a free fetal soul in the exchange. lol…

    Great vid! Thanks. *hugs*

  9. Best birth control in my mind: get a possessive dog that does not like other people touching you. (It is a joke) πŸ˜‚. Or alternate version: do not have sex ever.

  10. Hmm, birth control:
    7) Spells of different kinds are used as well as control of elements
    6) Amulets and magical items are common
    5) Animal body parts and herbs of all kind are also fairly common
    4) Monstly hybrids are sterile or species can get infection that can stop them from getting pregnant forever
    3) Still there are children of two species that can be created by genetic manipulation but they are commonly look down upon or abandoned by their parents plus they are not that common.
    2) Like in real world, some species can control their blood flow/inside organs and therefore not become pregnant. Some species can also repopulate like plants. The time of being pregnant varies between species from 6 months to even 4 years or maybe even longer.
    1) Deities known as Guardians are known for putting certain inviduals under their divine protection and by praying them one can have children in their family. Or have lots and lots of sex.

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