Humanity has gone to great lengths to prevent pregnancy. The Ancient Egyptians used mashed crocodile dung as a vaginal suppository. Contraceptive devices deployed in the 19th century included the womb veil, a precursor to the diaphragm, and the Mizpah pessary, a cervical cap made from vulcanised rubber. Early condoms were as thick as the inner tube of a bicycle tyre. Sex in such gear hardly seems worth the effort. Until the pill became widely available in the 1960s, women douched with Lysol, a household disinfectant.
The pill revolutionised women’s reproductive health: it transformed attitudes to sex and allowed women to take control. But since its introduction, advances in contraceptive technology have stagnated while hormonal contraceptives continue to have significant shortcomings: side-effects include depression, weight gain, unpredictable bleeding and a higher risk of developing blood clots.
Now digital technology is offering a less disruptive solution.
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