Red dog on a white horse, Auth Flo, monthly courses, little visitor, Bloody Mary, indisposed, the rag, vapours, time of the month, cramps, collywobbles, period, menstruation, no matter how you put it they all mean the same thing and it ain’t pretty.
When you read a book the most information they give you is the female was indisposed, or she has her monthly courses. In the case of nobles, the ladies maid checked the sheets for spots of the stuff. King’s had spies that would check to see if his wife was bleeding…I sure wouldn’t want anyone spying on me during that time of the month.
They didn’t have tampons and maxi-pads back then either, so what did they use when the Curse of Eve was upon them?
This is where the term “on the rag,” comes from…women used to have strips of cloth rags they would use during menstruation to catch the fluids. It was pretty simple, and not much different than now. Commercial sanitary napkins didn’t come around until the late 1800’s.
Tampons have been around as a medical device since the 1800’s as well, but they were used to stop the bleeding from bullet wounds. It wasn’t until around 1930 that the applicator and string were attached and began being marketed for feminine use.
Also it has been noted in several places that women of the lower classes would use nothing, and one woman was even quoted as saying how disgusting it was to bleed into her chemise day after day. Needless to say, lots of strong perfumes were used…as bathing wasn’t a regular practice. (shudder...)
A period meant a woman was fertile, and that she was not currently with child. It was also considered very unsanitary, made worse by the church. A woman who was experiencing her collywobbles, was encouraged to keep to herself. Her husband would be warned to stay away from her and she was not aloud to attend church.
Now that we know a little bit about a woman’s indisposition, what types of methods were used to make sure she kept on having it? I’m talking about contraception.
The Pill wasn’t invented to stop pregnancy until 1960, and while we know coitus interuptus was evident even in biblical times, there had to be more than that right? Of course! We are sexual beings and if we can think up something to keep us doing it, you know we will!
As far back as 1550 BC, woman would mix together concoctions, soak a handful of wool, and then place it in the vulva, the mixture would be quite effective. Other various soaked sponges have been used throughout history as well. Pessaries of elephant and crocodile dung were introduced in the second century…there is no way I would have put animal feces near any part of my body…
Another popular pessary in Victorian times was the wooden block. Ouch! It had concave sides and was inserted into the vagina. However in the 1930’s it was condemned as an instrument of torture…uh, you think?
Moving on to penis protectors, you know the condom. Every thing from animal intestines and skins to fine linens and cloths have been used to cover it up. Many of these sheaths needed to be soaked before use. Casanova was famously known for using condoms. The name condom supposedly comes from a Dr. Condom, who used to make cloth sheaths for King Charles II, however many believe this to be false.
The first rubber condom was made in the 1850’s, hence the term “rubbers.”
So now that I’ve informed you of the various methods of birth control, I leave you with this…
Wiener wrap, French tickler, French letter, armour, roadblock, pecker pack, protection, cervical sponge, Dutch cap, love glove, jism jacket, cock sock, jolly bag, Mr. Happy’s business suit, nightcap, sheath, shag bag, raincoat, life saver…
*Not all of the words above were in use throughout history, however some were too weird, unusual or funny for me not to share with you.*