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Contraception Technology in a Fantasy World

Electro Queen

Minstrel
Oh...and girls with big legs can still be in the category of having less menstruation. But all of this would be individual based. If a 100 girls all had big legs, and lived very strenuous lifestyles, they would all probably have different rates of cycles. Some none at all, others more regular. For a story, I would just have it as it worked out for the characters I did not want to become pregnant and not for those that did. A more important factor in all of it is what the author wants. In story world, we are just looking for plausible.
Nice 👌 thanks for the awesome tip
 

Queshire

Auror
Wouldn’t this hurt the woman after sex and require knowledge of where the sperm is inside the body?

The reason men have balls is because if they were up in the body like ovaries the body heat would damage the sperm. It doesn't take a significant amount of heat to harm them, and really there's only a limited amount of places inside the body where the sperm could be that you'd have to worry about.
 

Electro Queen

Minstrel
The reason men have balls is because if they were up in the body like ovaries the body heat would damage the sperm. It doesn't take a significant amount of heat to harm them, and really there's only a limited amount of places inside the body where the sperm could be that you'd have to worry about.
Oooooh he meant heating the man’s sperm inside his… uhhhh… let’s just call them flesh spheres before he cums inside the woman. I thought he meant heating and killing the woman’s sperm after it entered her body.
 

Electro Queen

Minstrel
Queshire



“Eh, different settings for different folks. I aim for an shonen anime-esque power level for my stuff so there's stuff like flash stepping and sword beams. Little tricks to make melee fighters mildly superhuman as a balance against magic users is just par for the course.”



Flash stepping is such a cool ability. I wish more electrokinetic/fragile speedster characters in fiction had it.



Never really understood the point of trying to distinguish physiological superpowers from magical powers. Like, if the superpower in question already goes against traditional physical laws, how is it any different from magic? Some forms of magic even have the ability to simulate common superpowers in relation to strength, speed and intellect, so the bridge between both of them isn’t even as big as it was in the past.



“I've no clue if such a thing exists in real life. We're making a fantasy world. Just having a herbal tea appear in story and saying it works as contraception necessitates that such herbs exist and that they work well enough for the characters to bother using them. That said, such teas do stretch my willing suspension of disbelief somewhat. I'd probably add in some backstory about nobles using the tea as a way to ensure their dalliance's don't mess with the chain of inheritance and from their they became popular and well spread enough to be utilized by the common man.”



Just researched this an hour ago and no. Herbal Tea does not prevent pregnancy.
 

Electro Queen

Minstrel

Queshire

Auror
Oooooh he meant heating the man’s sperm inside his… uhhhh… let’s just call them flesh spheres before he cums inside the woman. I thought he meant heating and killing the woman’s sperm after it entered her body.
Well, the guy could do that, but if the girl had fire magic she could as well once it was in her body. My main point is that sperm is sensitive enough to heat that just the difference between being up in the body vs dangling can matter.
 

Electro Queen

Minstrel
Just throwing this out there. So far everyone that has helped me out with this question has pointed me in the direction of pills, magic, plants and teas, but what about the most well known form of contraception?

Condoms. How are those made and how could my different type of magic make them?
 
Perhaps off-topic, but this triggered me:
I’m not to bothered about them not being able to throw a punch as strong as a man since both genders will be assigned different weapon types that play to their strengths. Men get sword and shield combos and greatswords while women get pole arms and bows and arrows. Daggers and flail maces are more specialised and are rarer as a result but the latter is usually used by men.
While this is a very common trope to see, it's also completely wrong. If anything, a bow would be a man's weapon, not a female one. Crossbows perhaps, but a typical war-bow demands huge amounts of upper-body strength. More so than any other weapon I can think of. As in a typical war bow would have 80-110 pounds of draw weight, with some models reaching to double that. There's a reason you need years of training to accurately fire a war bow, and this is it (or at least, one of the reasons).

A sword on the other hand is actually a pretty light weapon. Of course you'll feel it if you swing it around all day. But even with a typical longsword, speed and accuracy matter a lot more than brute strength. And the length of the weapon actually somewhat negates the height advantage men have. As in, if your weapon is 120cm long, then 5 extra cm of arm length don't matter as much as when your weapon is only 20 cm long.

So, give your women swords, not bows.

You can find several videos on the topic on the shadiversity Youtube channel. Check them out, they're great.

As for polearms, they're actually great, and far better than common fantasy tropes would have you believe. If you have two equally skilled fighters, one with a spear and one with a sword, then the one with the spear is actually likely to beat the sword guy. Reason is that the spear is a lot longer, and therefore you're dead before you can hit someone with your sword. So give everyone polearms!
 

pmmg

Istar
Wouldn’t this hurt the woman after sex and require knowledge of where the sperm is inside the body?

I took this from the belief that soaking in a hot tub can temporarily kill off sperm. So it would seem the heat does not need to be great, just enough that the sperm could not survive. Prior or after would suffice. I think you kind of know where it is in the moment after, and the success rate you are shooting for is only 50%.
 

Electro Queen

Minstrel
Prince of Spires



“Perhaps off-topic, but this triggered me”



Tbh, I actually love it when threads like this develop to the point that more topics and points of discussion are brought to light. It’s fun talking with you lot and I get lots of useful new information for my project.



“While this is a very common trope to see, it's also completely wrong. If anything, a bow would be a man's weapon, not a female one. Crossbows perhaps, but a typical war-bow demands huge amounts of upper-body strength. More so than any other weapon I can think of. As in a typical war bow would have 80-110 pounds of draw weight, with some models reaching to double that. There's a reason you need years of training to accurately fire a war bow, and this is it (or at least, one of the reasons).”



“A sword on the other hand is actually a pretty light weapon. Of course you'll feel it if you swing it around all day. But even with a typical longsword, speed and accuracy matter a lot more than brute strength. And the length of the weapon actually somewhat negates the height advantage men have. As in, if your weapon is 120cm long, then 5 extra cm of arm length don't matter as much as when your weapon is only 20 cm long.”



“So, give your women swords, not bows.”



Ok I’ll level with you. The reason I’m organising the weapon types like this is because A. I’ve played way too much BotW and Genshin Impact and B. I’ve already designed at least 2 female characters where the bow just suits their design and personality better than any other weapon. With that in mind however, I do have a semi-decent explanation to (try to) justify my choice to categorise the weapons like this.



First off, just because a certain type of weapon is predominantly used by a particular gender, that doesn’t mean they’re exclusively used by that gender. Of course women can wield swords and shields and of course men can wield pole arms and bows. That was more so a generalisation and I apologise for the lack of clarity.



I’ve used both carbon fibre bows and wooden bows before and have never struggled to lift them and I know plenty of professional female athletes take home the gold in archery so even if men are better suited than women for bow-based combat, I dunno if the difference in performance is enough to matter that much.



I also have various different bow designs for each part of my world. At least 3 of those corners use the traditional war-bow your describing (well, one of them resembles a stone-age era bow but all 3 are still made of wood). Those last two corners however have specialised metallic bows made of aluminium alloys (which is used by Water Mages since it’s slightly more resistant to rusting than other lightweight, durable metals) and titanium (which is used by Fire Mages since it’s slightly more heat resistant than other metals. Or am I thinking of stainless steel?). Obviously the bows won’t be entirely made of metal (the ends need to be able to bend in order for them to work) and the strings of these bows won’t be made of metal but even I’ll admit I have no idea what the best string I should use for bows like this. My point is though, weight won’t be a problem since these bows won’t be super heavy to lug around. They can also be used like melee weapons in a pinch if the user is out of arrows (think MCU Hawkeye and Overwatch Hanzo) The videos below even shows the surprising practically of a metallic bow










Ignore the garbage accuracy of the shooters in the first video



As for the swords, yes. You are right in bringing to light the fact that swords aren’t heavy at all and like I said, some female warriors in my armies use them, but here’s the thing:



  1. Due to the sword’s lack of range in comparison to the other weapon types, no one in the army would use one in battle without a shield as well, which will add quite a bit of extra weight for the carrier. This leads into the second point
  2. In a battle of man vs. Woman, the disparity in strength has enough potential to nullify the usefulness brought about by technique and even speed. A highly trained armoured knight with a large sword or two-handed can smash straight throw a woman’s shield if he gets a good angled hit in, but a man has a better chance at parrying the attack and counter striking (or just blocking it in general). Are there exceptions to this? Yes. But assuming we’re dealing with equal training here, well… I’m really sorry if this comes across as sexist, but the man’s gonna be the one who’s shield is less likely to fly out of his hand once that claymore comes crashing down (don’t blame me for this blame evolution). Speaking of claymores
  3. Although women can absolutely wield swords and shields, greatswords are a slightly different story. Unlike real life greatswords, which are essentially slightly heavier regular swords, the large two handed weapons in my world are quite a big heavier. They act like armour piercers with the ability to disrupt shields formations, block arrows (if the user is highly skilled of course) and stand a much better chance against pole arms then regular swords. Think BotW’s Royal Claymores and Zora Longswords. Women can definitely use regular swords just fine, but greatswords? Steroids don’t exist in this world I’m afraid


“You can find several videos on the topic on the shadiversity Youtube channel. Check them out, they're great.”



I’m actually subscribed to Shadiversity’s channel. He’s absolutely amazing as far as YouTubers go



“As for polearms, they're actually great, and far better than common fantasy tropes would have you believe. If you have two equally skilled fighters, one with a spear and one with a sword, then the one with the spear is actually likely to beat the sword guy. Reason is that the spear is a lot longer, and therefore you're dead before you can hit someone with your sword. So give everyone polearms!”



Yeah, spears are OP as hell. My little side story about a teenage assassin trying to kill a king in the middle of the night? The only reason why that’s even slightly doable for her is because she picked up one of the dead guards spears while the king, who had no armour on him whatsoever, only had access to a DECREMENTAL broadsword he ripped off of the wall. Needless to say, he was disarmed in 15 seconds.



Ok but seriously. I have actually read that women have better precision and fine hand abilities than men so maybe that could be a decent explanation as to why pole arms may be classed as a primarily feminine weapon? Lord knows Fire Emblem did nothing but reinforce that idea into the heads of talented (and trashy) fiction writers. But yeah like I said, outside of large two handed weapons, any gender can wield any weapon they want and there’s way more male warriors than female warriors in both of the factions that allow women to be a part of them (for the water one, only 34% of everyone in their army are female, and the fire one is as low as 11%). I can’t exactly give everyone both army’s nothing but pole arms though since that would honestly be kinda boring. Like, at some point in fiction, you have to forgo realism just a little bit in favour of the Rule of Cool and an army with a mix of like 4-10 different weapon types is way cooler than an army who’s soldiers use nothing but spears (even if it is much less practical in a realistic setting).



Also yes, I’m too stubborn to use magic to explain why some of my characters avoid pregnancy after having sex with someone else, but I’m choosing not to give every solider in my armies the most practical weapons for battle since I think that’s not particularly interesting or entertaining. Does that make me hypocritical, argumentative or some combination of both? I’m honestly not sure.
 

Electro Queen

Minstrel
I took this from the belief that soaking in a hot tub can temporarily kill off sperm. So it would seem the heat does not need to be great, just enough that the sperm could not survive. Prior or after would suffice. I think you kind of know where it is in the moment after, and the success rate you are shooting for is only 50%.
I conducted some research on this and from what I gathered, this seems like a Blatantly false myth that’s yet to die down.
 

Electro Queen

Minstrel

pmmg

Istar
I conducted some research on this and from what I gathered, this seems like a Blatantly false myth that’s yet to die down.
The hot tub method may not work, but the heat still would. If magic heated up the liquid, the sperm in the liquid would die...or most of them would die. It would still be in the range of some percentage of effectiveness.
 

pmmg

Istar
Ok but seriously. I have actually read that women have better precision and fine hand abilities than men so maybe that could be a decent explanation as to why pole arms may be classed as a primarily feminine weapon? Lord knows Fire Emblem did nothing but reinforce that idea into the heads of talented (and trashy) fiction writers. But yeah like I said, outside of large two handed weapons, any gender can wield any weapon they want and there’s way more male warriors than female warriors in both of the factions that allow women to be a part of them (for the water one, only 34% of everyone in their army are female, and the fire one is as low as 11%). I can’t exactly give everyone both army’s nothing but pole arms though since that would honestly be kinda boring. Like, at some point in fiction, you have to forgo realism just a little bit in favour of the Rule of Cool and an army with a mix of like 4-10 different weapon types is way cooler than an army who’s soldiers use nothing but spears (even if it is much less practical in a realistic setting).

I think rule of cool prevails. And I say this as probably the one most likely to oppose the idea of women in armies in this time setting on the site (I will assert, I think it is 'very' unlikely.) But hey...I can accept a woman with a bow or a sword or whatever. I just have to be sold. Chances are, I may find places where I say Bullsh*t, but rule of cool may have me overlook that. I liked Princess on HULU and it was entirely BS. I also liked prey, which I thought was mostly BS as well. Heck, I even bought the giant boomerang used in Inuyasha, and that was entirely BS.

It may be true that some aspect of weapons that appear in stories would not lend themselves to being ones that were good candidates for women, but stories are usually about the exceptions.

lso yes, I’m too stubborn to use magic to explain why some of my characters avoid pregnancy after having sex with someone else, but I’m choosing not to give every solider in my armies the most practical weapons for battle since I think that’s not particularly interesting or entertaining. Does that make me hypocritical, argumentative or some combination of both? I’m honestly not sure.

If you don't want magic, then we'll just cross that off the list. A sponge in lemon juice sounds about the technology you are talking about. I cant find statistics on its effectiveness, but it was widely used, and probably had some degree of it. It would be hard to measure really, cause not all failures of the sponge would result in pregnancy. It would be more likely that one who had a lot of sex, and used a somewhat effective method, still gets pregnant unexpectedly at some point along the way.
 

TheKillerBs

Inkling
Prince of Spires



“Perhaps off-topic, but this triggered me”



Tbh, I actually love it when threads like this develop to the point that more topics and points of discussion are brought to light. It’s fun talking with you lot and I get lots of useful new information for my project.



“While this is a very common trope to see, it's also completely wrong. If anything, a bow would be a man's weapon, not a female one. Crossbows perhaps, but a typical war-bow demands huge amounts of upper-body strength. More so than any other weapon I can think of. As in a typical war bow would have 80-110 pounds of draw weight, with some models reaching to double that. There's a reason you need years of training to accurately fire a war bow, and this is it (or at least, one of the reasons).”



“A sword on the other hand is actually a pretty light weapon. Of course you'll feel it if you swing it around all day. But even with a typical longsword, speed and accuracy matter a lot more than brute strength. And the length of the weapon actually somewhat negates the height advantage men have. As in, if your weapon is 120cm long, then 5 extra cm of arm length don't matter as much as when your weapon is only 20 cm long.”



“So, give your women swords, not bows.”



Ok I’ll level with you. The reason I’m organising the weapon types like this is because A. I’ve played way too much BotW and Genshin Impact and B. I’ve already designed at least 2 female characters where the bow just suits their design and personality better than any other weapon. With that in mind however, I do have a semi-decent explanation to (try to) justify my choice to categorise the weapons like this.



First off, just because a certain type of weapon is predominantly used by a particular gender, that doesn’t mean they’re exclusively used by that gender. Of course women can wield swords and shields and of course men can wield pole arms and bows. That was more so a generalisation and I apologise for the lack of clarity.



I’ve used both carbon fibre bows and wooden bows before and have never struggled to lift them and I know plenty of professional female athletes take home the gold in archery so even if men are better suited than women for bow-based combat, I dunno if the difference in performance is enough to matter that much.



I also have various different bow designs for each part of my world. At least 3 of those corners use the traditional war-bow your describing (well, one of them resembles a stone-age era bow but all 3 are still made of wood). Those last two corners however have specialised metallic bows made of aluminium alloys (which is used by Water Mages since it’s slightly more resistant to rusting than other lightweight, durable metals) and titanium (which is used by Fire Mages since it’s slightly more heat resistant than other metals. Or am I thinking of stainless steel?). Obviously the bows won’t be entirely made of metal (the ends need to be able to bend in order for them to work) and the strings of these bows won’t be made of metal but even I’ll admit I have no idea what the best string I should use for bows like this. My point is though, weight won’t be a problem since these bows won’t be super heavy to lug around. They can also be used like melee weapons in a pinch if the user is out of arrows (think MCU Hawkeye and Overwatch Hanzo) The videos below even shows the surprising practically of a metallic bow










Ignore the garbage accuracy of the shooters in the first video



As for the swords, yes. You are right in bringing to light the fact that swords aren’t heavy at all and like I said, some female warriors in my armies use them, but here’s the thing:



  1. Due to the sword’s lack of range in comparison to the other weapon types, no one in the army would use one in battle without a shield as well, which will add quite a bit of extra weight for the carrier. This leads into the second point
  2. In a battle of man vs. Woman, the disparity in strength has enough potential to nullify the usefulness brought about by technique and even speed. A highly trained armoured knight with a large sword or two-handed can smash straight throw a woman’s shield if he gets a good angled hit in, but a man has a better chance at parrying the attack and counter striking (or just blocking it in general). Are there exceptions to this? Yes. But assuming we’re dealing with equal training here, well… I’m really sorry if this comes across as sexist, but the man’s gonna be the one who’s shield is less likely to fly out of his hand once that claymore comes crashing down (don’t blame me for this blame evolution). Speaking of claymores
  3. Although women can absolutely wield swords and shields, greatswords are a slightly different story. Unlike real life greatswords, which are essentially slightly heavier regular swords, the large two handed weapons in my world are quite a big heavier. They act like armour piercers with the ability to disrupt shields formations, block arrows (if the user is highly skilled of course) and stand a much better chance against pole arms then regular swords. Think BotW’s Royal Claymores and Zora Longswords. Women can definitely use regular swords just fine, but greatswords? Steroids don’t exist in this world I’m afraid


“You can find several videos on the topic on the shadiversity Youtube channel. Check them out, they're great.”



I’m actually subscribed to Shadiversity’s channel. He’s absolutely amazing as far as YouTubers go



“As for polearms, they're actually great, and far better than common fantasy tropes would have you believe. If you have two equally skilled fighters, one with a spear and one with a sword, then the one with the spear is actually likely to beat the sword guy. Reason is that the spear is a lot longer, and therefore you're dead before you can hit someone with your sword. So give everyone polearms!”



Yeah, spears are OP as hell. My little side story about a teenage assassin trying to kill a king in the middle of the night? The only reason why that’s even slightly doable for her is because she picked up one of the dead guards spears while the king, who had no armour on him whatsoever, only had access to a DECREMENTAL broadsword he ripped off of the wall. Needless to say, he was disarmed in 15 seconds.



Ok but seriously. I have actually read that women have better precision and fine hand abilities than men so maybe that could be a decent explanation as to why pole arms may be classed as a primarily feminine weapon? Lord knows Fire Emblem did nothing but reinforce that idea into the heads of talented (and trashy) fiction writers. But yeah like I said, outside of large two handed weapons, any gender can wield any weapon they want and there’s way more male warriors than female warriors in both of the factions that allow women to be a part of them (for the water one, only 34% of everyone in their army are female, and the fire one is as low as 11%). I can’t exactly give everyone both army’s nothing but pole arms though since that would honestly be kinda boring. Like, at some point in fiction, you have to forgo realism just a little bit in favour of the Rule of Cool and an army with a mix of like 4-10 different weapon types is way cooler than an army who’s soldiers use nothing but spears (even if it is much less practical in a realistic setting).



Also yes, I’m too stubborn to use magic to explain why some of my characters avoid pregnancy after having sex with someone else, but I’m choosing not to give every solider in my armies the most practical weapons for battle since I think that’s not particularly interesting or entertaining. Does that make me hypocritical, argumentative or some combination of both? I’m honestly not sure.
The sports bows are only relevant if you don't have armour in your world, or if it isn't very good. However, if you have the metallurgy for armour-piercing greatswords, you absolutely have at least Hundred Years War level of armour, in which case an Olympic bow is going to do about as much as a toothpick. You need those powerful 100+ draw weight bows. Unless magic, of course. I won't get into the practical impossibility of having greatswords that can just tear through armour, I promise. *gets tongue out of cheek*
 
The sports bows are only relevant if you don't have armour in your world, or if it isn't very good. However, if you have the metallurgy for armour-piercing greatswords, you absolutely have at least Hundred Years War level of armour, in which case an Olympic bow is going to do about as much as a toothpick. You need those powerful 100+ draw weight bows.
This was indeed what I was trying to say. I wasn't talking about the weight of the bow itself. A bow, even an all metal one, is basically a glorified stick with a rope attached to it. Anyone who is allowed to enter the army can carry one. They could probably carry 10 for a whole day and not really notice their weight.

It's about pulling back the string. And there is a big difference between a modern day sports bow or olympic contest bow, and a war bow, when it comes to pulling back that string. It requires such strength that the skeletons of medieval longbow men are actually deformed because of the strength and training required. Just for comparisson, the warbows with the smallest draw weight still have twice the draw weight of a modern olympic bow.

Like I said, it's a common enough trope to see the bow as a "woman's weapon", and the rule of cool applies. So go for it. It's your story.
 

Electro Queen

Minstrel
The sports bows are only relevant if you don't have armour in your world, or if it isn't very good. However, if you have the metallurgy for armour-piercing greatswords, you absolutely have at least Hundred Years War level of armour, in which case an Olympic bow is going to do about as much as a toothpick. You need those powerful 100+ draw weight bows. Unless magic, of course. I won't get into the practical impossibility of having greatswords that can just tear through armour, I promise. *gets tongue out of cheek*
I guess it depends on the situation? Some of my archers stand back to use bigger, more powerful bows to pick off enemies from a distance, but many of the archers with the smaller bows act as battle moderators that get close enough to the action for point-blank shots. I mean, an arrow’s an arrow. It’s gonna hurt regardless of distance so long as it makes contact with your flesh at the right angle, and the only way an arrow’s gonna hurt someone wearing well-put-together armour is if it’s being fired from a really powerful, big bow at a fairly close distance. The point of the comparison was to show that modern-age women can operate decently powerful bows with great accuracy and in my world where the sexual dimorphism between men and women isn’t as far away as it is in real life, my women shouldn’t struggle too much with operating such weaponry. Yes, men are definitely better suited for the job, but you could say the same exact thing about literally every weapon ever.

Describing my greatswords as armour piercers was admittedly a bit misleading. What I meant by that was that greatswords can cause more direct damage to armoured soldiers then other weapon types. Of course you can’t cut through a suit of traditional armour with a sword (not unless your name is Jack). It would still bloody hurt to get whacked by a large two handed weapon though, even with padding. If it means anything though, my Fire Mages can imbue their weapons with fire to slightly increase their cutting power. This still wouldn’t grant you the same kind of insane cutting power that a saw blade could get you, but flesh and damaged wooden weapons and furniture won’t stand too much of a chance against something like that.
 

Electro Queen

Minstrel
I genuinely cannot for the life of me if this is supposed to be a serious video or a glorified sh**post but either way, I gotta thank you for providing me with a good laugh.

With this in mind however:

1. That bow doesn’t look nearly as big as traditional medieval war bows
2. This girl is an actual idiot. She had no reason whatsoever to draw the bow like that for so long. I get that it’s meant to intimidate the guy into thinking that she’ll shoot him if he tries to run away, but like, he’s on the ground and by the time he gets up, she’ll have already shot him to death. Hell, seconds after the initial shot, she lands two more shots on him WHILE HE’S MOVING which see her drawing the bow for like 2 seconds.
3. WHY DID’NT SHE SHOOT THE DAMN HORSE ONCE SHE REALISED ARROWS WEREN’T GONNA BE ENOUGH TO KILL HIM?!?!?
 
Contraceptives did exist in the Middle Ages, and before. They've been around at least as long as agriculture and probably longer. What's a product of modern times is industrialized methods.

In the early twentieth century, birth control pioneer Marie Stopes interviewed rural French women who had small families, usually no more than three or four children. She asked them how they kept their families so small, and they showed her the herbal concoctions they were making to prevent pregnancy. When she asked them where they learned to make those formulas, they all said from their mothers, and they assumed their mothers had learned from their grandmothers, on down the generations. That's how birth control was done in the past.

Typically, those older methods worked by preventing implantation, instead of knocking out the whole menstrual cycle and preventing ovulation, as the Pill does. They didn't have to be taken daily, just at certain times of the month. Timed right, they would prevent pregnancy for the whole month.

Condoms have existed since at least ancient Egypt, but the modern version, made of rubber, mass produced, and relatively comfortable, didn't exist before the late nineteenth century. It took the smelting of rubber to make the modern condom possible, and it takes factories to produce condoms on such a wide scale that anyone and everyone can use them for every act. In a non-industrialized setting, condoms wouldn't be widely available enough to be the go to method that everyone uses. Perhaps men visiting prostitutes would use them out of concern about STD's--the real reason the condom got so popular; the syphilis epidemic brought them back into fashion in the sixteenth century, and nowadays we're told to use condoms to prevent HIV--but a married couple who want to keep their family at a manageable size would be relying on home methods.

For fantasy purposes, you could just mention a preventive the heroine takes at certain times in her cycle. If you want to go into more detail about what the preventive is made from, we know very little about the actual contraceptive recipes of the past, but some historians have attempted to reconstruct them. Eve's Herbs by John Riddle is a good resource.
 
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