Here’s me at the Museum of Contraception & Abortion in Vienna, Austria. Pictured behind me & to my side are a variety of antique douche devices & methods that were used historically to wash sperm out of the vagina post-coitus in hopes of avoiding pregnancy.
Douching is not an effective method of contraception,
& while I would love to say that the notion is as antiquated as the devices at the museum, unfortunately I have had several women ask me about douching after sex to avoid pregnancy in recent years. These women were college educated & in their late 20s or 30s! Their confusion speaks to the fact that we have a long way to go on the road to universal access to comprehensive sexual education!The Museum of Contraception & Abortion in Vienna exists to further the mission of access to education. I spent over 3 hours in dialogue with the administrators at the museum sharing ideas, resources, & anecdotes. At one point in history abortion was punishable by death in Austria, & though it is now decriminalized it is not well protected legally; existing in a grey area. Contraception & abortion are not provided by the nation’s otherwise awesome socialized healthcare system, likely due to risidual religious conservatism from centuries of a Catholic ruling class. I was told that secrecy, stigma, & shame were the norm around contraception & abortion even in modern Austrian culture. If you’re interested in learning more about the history of abortion in Austria, check out the documentary “The Long Arm of The Empress”.