A century ago, some furniture used in good, middle-class homes was actually designed for vaginal douches, then used as a method of contraception. Stools with damask upholstery, low tables with ornate wickerwork, and apparently innocent side tables had porcelain basins under flip-up tops which caught the liquid used for douches.
Before the contraceptive pill was introduced in the 1960s, contraception represented a game of chance. A number of different methods were developed, none of them reliable. The idea of vaginal douching seems to make sense at first: rinsing the sperm cells away as they swim up a woman’s genital tract would prevent conception. However, they reach the ovaries long before a woman could jump out of bed, sit on the basin, insert the hose into her vagina, and rinse with (cold!) water. A contemporary writer commented on this method’s frequent failures by saying that a woman would have to ignore her innate desire for post-coital cuddling. Cuddling consumed valuable time. The man, on the other hand, would simply roll over and drop off to sleep, as he needn’t engage in complex acrobatics.
In the 1970s, the method of douching for emergency contraception reappeared briefly, though this time it didn’t involve elegant pieces of furniture. A well-shaken bottle of Coca-Cola was used. Please don’t try this yourself.