Sex has always been a bit of a taboo subject. And it’s no wonder, then, that people made such poor judgements about the topic.
Like, for example, suggesting that babies lived inside sperm and women played no part in conception.
Or telling women to squat and sneeze to avoid getting pregnant.
Intrigued? Here are some incredibly baffling things our ancestors used to believe about sex.
In the Victorian era, it was thought that women who masturbated would be underdeveloped and have a flat chest.
Meanwhile Swiss physician Samuel Tissot wrote in 1758 that the loss of semen brought about by male masturbation could lead to bad eyesight.
On avoiding pregnancy
The Greek physician Soronus believed that sneezing after sex would prevent pregnancy. He specifically recommended squatting down, sneezing and rinsing out the vagina to avoid conception.
Fast forward thousands of years and things are still pretty ridiculous. In 2012, former U.S. representative Todd Akin said that after being raped, a woman’s body is able to shut down and prevent pregnancy.
On where babies came from
In the Stone Age, some people believed that the spirits of babies lived inside specific fruits and that women became pregnant by eating those fruits.
In the 1600s, after seeing sperm through a microscope, scientists Johan Ham and Anton Van Leeuwenhoek came to believe that little humans lived inside of sperm.
They also believed that women did not provide anything for conception to take place.
On phantom pregnancies
‘Phantom pregnancies’ are when women display the symptoms of being pregnant without being pregnant.
Back in the Elizabethan times, some believed that phantom pregnancies were the work of demons.
In the late 1800s, women were warned against riding bicycles because it was thought they could cause infertility, as well as orgasms.
Buzzfeed notes that male doctors might have made these claims over the fear of the freedom that bikes would give to women.
Additionally, in medical writings dating all the way back to the first century A.D, ‘hysteria’ was a female-specific illness that was treated by massaging a woman to ‘paroxysm’ - aka orgasm.
The modern vibrator evolved from mechanical massagers meant to treat hysteria.