Lysol Used as Birth Control?

lysolCommentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS

A writer on a liberal website is lamenting the days when women were forced by a misogynistic society to use Lysol as birth control but neglects to mention that the same society is now pumping them full of Class 1 carcinogens instead.

Writing for, Nicole Pasulka reminds women that in the early 1920’s and 30’s, Lysol was a popular form of contraceptive in spite of the fact that many women were injured and even died from its use.

“The most popular brand of douche was Lysol—an antiseptic soap whose pre-1953 formula contained cresol, a phenol compound reported in some cases to cause inflammation, burning, and even death,” Pasulka writes. “By 1911 doctors had recorded 193 Lysol poisonings and five deaths from uterine irrigation. Despite reports to the contrary, Lysol was aggressively marketed to women as safe and gentle.”

In fact, one ad describes Lysol as “the perfect antiseptic for marriage hygiene,” claiming: “The fact that it is used as an antiseptic in childbirth is evidence that it is safe and mild enough for even the most sensitive female membranes.”

One ad concludes with a doctor’s statement: “I prescribe its regular use in marriage hygiene for the health and peace of mind of every wife.”

An investigation conducted later by the American Medical Association found that many of the doctors quoted as experts in these ads didn’t even exist.

“The fraud of the Lysol douche was a byproduct of illegality,” writes  Dr Andrea Tone’s in her 2001 book Devices and Desires: A History of Contraceptives in America.

“Because birth control couldn’t be advertised openly, manufacturers would use euphemisms to refer to birth control. They took advantage of consumers’ hopes.”

Pasulka goes on to lament: “These ads and the product they’re hawking are a chilling reminder of a time when most women had limited access to birth control or reliable medical knowledge about contraception. Corporate muscle moved into the void to advertise Lysol as contraception under the widely recognized euphemism of ‘feminine hygiene,’ and as Tone writes, ‘the strategy won sales by jeopardizing women’s health’.”

Reading the article, I couldn’t help but think that not much has changed since then, has it? Women were once advised to use a toilet cleaner to prevent conception, now they’re being fed dangerous synthetic hormones that the World Health Organization lists as Class 1 carcinogens.

“Corporate muscle” has been replaced by Big Pharma who is making cheap birth control widely available today – but it’s costing women more than they realize.

For instance, the manufacturer of the popular Yaz and Yasmin pills has admitted to paying $1.2 billion in claims by women who have been injured or died as a result of using the drugs.

There are currently more than 3,000 pending lawsuits against the makers of the hip new pill alternative, Nuva Ring.

The Ortho Evra patch has caused 18 year-olds to collapse and die in subway stations and DepoProvera shots are leaving thousands of women with irreversible bone loss.

And this is notwithstanding the deadly intrauterine devices such as the Dalkon Shield that have rendered so many women infertile or worse.

I wish I could agree with Pasulka that women have come a long way since the days of using toilet cleaners to prevent births but when the facts are known it becomes only too clear that they’ve simply traded common household cleaners for more technologically advanced poisons.

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