Today, we're lucky enough to have a range of contraceptive options available to us. They have all been thoroughly researched by medical professionals and are deemed safe to be used.
However, in other parts of the world, contraceptive methods are often based on myths or inaccurate information, and they can be incredibly harmful to the women who use them. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) researched some of the shocking methods that are still being used by women today.
Apple Cider Vinegar
In the Republic of Moldova, women are known to apply the vinegar vaginally after intercourse via douching. The belief is that the acidity of the vinegar will kill sperm and ultimately prevent pregnancy.
Ludmila Bologan, a gynecologist in Moldova was surprised to hear a woman talk during a training day for family planning about vinegar being a good contraceptive method because it's "natural and cost-effective."
In reality, inserting apple cider vinegar vaginally can lead to the deterioration of normal vaginal flora, and can irritate the vaginal mucus. Both eventualities heighten the risk of developing infections.
In urban and rural Myanmar, it's still common for women to wash their vaginas with water and soap after sexual intercourse. It supposedly washes the sperm out of the vaginal canal, however, this is not the case.
Aside from not being an effective contraceptive, washing internally with soap and water can irritate and alter the acidity of the vagina, which increases the risk of infections. This includes sexually transmitted infections, urinary tract infections, and other bacterial, viral and fungal infections.
Antiseptics are still used to wash female genital areas following the withdrawal or "pull-out" method in Sri Lanka. Many believe the disinfectant's ability to kill harmful germs and bacteria also means it can kill sperm and prevent the transmission of STDs.
Hemantha Senanayake, Professor of Obstetrics And Gynecology at the University of Colombo in Sri Lanka, explains why this isn't possible: "Sperm that is deposited in the vagina attach themselves rapidly to mucus secreted by the cervix. They are then able to advance deep into the cervix. No antiseptic introduced into the vagina will be able to dislodge them. The same applies to disease-causing organisms," the expert said.
Applying disinfectants to the genital area can cause irritation to the skin, so it's not a practice that's recommended.
Soft Drinks + Medicine
A practice that's been used in Angola since the 1990s, and that's apparently still prevalent among young people today, is to drink Coca-Cola with two or more aspirin after sex in a bid to prevent pregnancy. According to the UNFPA, some people prefer to boil the coke before.
"I have tried this [a] long time ago when I was a teenager. I had a very bad time," 34-year-old housekeeper Judith da Costa said. "Today I use contraceptive pills, which is the most appropriate for my health. According to the doctor at the time, this practice should not be taken. It can cause a heart attack and, depending on the dose, lead to death."
As well as apple cider vinegar, it's been known for women in the Republic of Moldova to apply lemon slices to the vagina after intercourse. It's thought the acidity of the lemon can kill sperm and therefore act as a contraceptive.
However, just like apple cider vinegar, the acid can cause irritation and lead to infections.
While it's not known if this method of contraception is still being used, the UNFPA reports some people in their 70s who live in the western part of Nepal reported having previously used turmeric and water to prevent pregnancy.
Early in the morning, the day after having sex, women mix three spoonfuls of turmeric with water and drink it. While this isn't known to do any harm, it's certainly not an effective means of contraception.
The use of mango seeds as contraception was an ancient tradition in Yemen that appears to have come back into fashion due to limited access to modern contraceptives. The seed of the mango would be smashed up and drunk with water on the 5th day of a woman's period, and she'd be advised not to take or eat honey, milk, or any antibiotics within that week.
Just like the modern day contraceptive pill, people believed taking the mango seed on a monthly basis would serve as an effective contraception for up to seven years. Although the mango seed itself isn't dangerous in its own right, it's risky to avoid taking antibiotics if medically necessary. This method is also deemed unsafe because it may encourage women to have unprotected sex in the belief they will not get pregnant.
This method was used mainly in Vietnam between the 1940s and the 1970s, but it's thought some people still use it today. People would infuse certain herbs and drink them, believing it would interfere with implantation and therefore prevent pregnancy.
In reality, unregulated herbal medicines can cause kidney failure and liver damage because they can contain toxic chemicals or heavy metals, or can react harmfully with other drugs. As doses are also not monitored, the herbs may be taken in strong concentrations which may have unknown effects.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com/uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.