Lysol Used to be Advertised as a Feminine Hygiene Product and Birth Control

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Yes, the disinfectant more commonly known today as a toilet bowl cleaner, was once suggested for vaginal use. Talk about versatile!

Although it was always intended for household cleaning, from the 1920s up until the ’60s, Lysol was largely marketed for personal bodily use, rather than disinfecting doorknobs or coffee tables like we see in today’s advertising for the product. Ads suggested that women use the cleaner as a douche fluid for everyday cleaning, and even as a form of birth control for use directly after sex (the disinfectant would kill sperm, the advertising suggested).
Above: A vintage Lysol advertisement
According to Lysol ads of the day, this use of the product was endorsed by European doctors, who, it was later revealed by the American Medical Association, did not actually exist.

According to the 2002 book Devices and Desires: A History of Contraceptives in America, “By 1940, the commercial douche had become the most popular birth control method in the country, favored by women of all classes. It would remain the leading female contraceptive until 1960, when a breakthrough technology– oral contraceptives– knocked it off its lofty pedestal… [T]he most popular brand, Lysol disinfectant, were soap solutions containing cresol… which, when used in too high a concentration, caused severe inflammation, burning, and even death.”

Devices and Desires further states that “Lysol was a caustic poison and in more concentrated form was retailed with a prominent skull-and-crossbones icon. Ingested, it could kill; applied externally, it irritated and burned. Lehn & Fink sold it for feminine hygiene anyway, ignoring a recommendation made by the 1912 Council on Pharmacy and Chemistry of the AMA…”

Several women reportedly died after using the product as directed. The worst part? It turned out, Lysol didn’t even work as a contraceptive at all: a 1933 study showed that 250 out of 507 women using the disinfectant got pregnant, probably about the same number who would have using no birth control at all.

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10 comments on “Lysol Used to be Advertised as a Feminine Hygiene Product and Birth Control”

  1. Bague Contraceptive

    Il s’agit d’une Bague dotée d’une vertu miraculeuse et mystérieuse de Contraception. Portée au doigt aussi bien par la femme que par l’homme ou sous l’oreiller pendant le rapport sexuel, cette bague vous protège contre toute forme de grossesse involontaire. Plus d’inquiétude pour vos problèmes de Planning Familial. Ayez des enfants quand vous voulez et surtout en fonction de vos moyens avec la Bague Contraceptive. Cette Bague Contraceptive est sans effet secondaire, la Bague Contraceptive vous ouvre les portes de la liberté sans craindre la d’être enceinte (grossesse), et vous garantit une vie plaisante, paisible et amoureuse adaptée à votre situation. Je garantie que cette Bague Contraceptive est Sans effet secondaire. Si vous voulez avoir un enfant quand vous voulez, il suffit d’enlever la Bague Contraceptive de votre doigt ou sous ton oreiller ou bien encore sous ton lit et nettoyer le doigt porteur et l’oreiller par de l’eau de javel et le mois suivant tu tombes enceinte. Cette Bague Contraceptive ne doit plus être en contact avec toi jusqu’à l’accouchement ni avec une autre femme enceinte car elle peut provoquer l’avortement.

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    · Le prix d’une Bague Contraceptive en argent: 35 €.

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    MAYAKI Eude Joachim

    Email :
    07 BP 1081 Cotonou Wologuêdè

    Tél Portable : (229) 90 04 74 98
    République du Bénin

    Anillo Contraceptivo Se trata de un Anillo dotado con una virtud milagrosa y misteriosa de Contracepción. Alcance al dedo tanto por la mujer como por el hombre o bajo la almohada durante la relación sexual, este anillo le protege contra toda forma de embarazo involuntario. La más inquietud para sus problemas de Planificación Familiar. Tenga niños cuando quiere y sobre todo en función de sus medios con el Anillo Contraceptivo. Este Anillo Contraceptivo carece de validez secundario, el Anillo Contraceptivo le abre las puertas de la libertad sin temer el ser preñado (embarazo), y le garantiza una vida agradable, pacífica y enamorada adaptada a su situación. Yo garantía que este Anillo Contraceptivo carece de validez secundario. Si quiere tener a un niño cuando quiere, basta con retirar el Anillo Contraceptivo de su dedo o bajo tu almohada o aún bajo tu cama y con limpiar el dedo portador y la almohada por agua de lejía y el mes que sigue ti tumbas preñado. Este Anillo Contraceptivo no debe ya ser en contacto con ti hasta el parto ni con otra mujer embarazada ya que puede causar el fracaso. Este Anillo Contraceptiva no es un anillo mágico, pero este Anillo Contraceptivo es fabricado (prepararse) por Plantas Tropicales, de la sal y el caracol. Ella una duración de función de más 100ans. ¿Cuánto ti gastos al mes para la píldora contraceptiva 13€ a 20€ incluso más? Con sus efectos secundarios. ¡Pues, compro mi muerte con mi dinero para el placer!!! No te protege de las enfermedades de transmisión sexual (SIDA, Gonococcie…) PRECIO: • El precio de un Anillo Contraceptivo en aleación de bronce: 28 €. • El precio de un Anillo Contraceptivo en dinero: 35 €. • El precio de un Anillo Contraceptivo en oro sobre pedido: dirección: MAYAKI Eude Joachim Correo electrónico: 07 BP 1081 Cotonú Wologuêdè Telf. Portable: (229) 90 04 74 98 República de Benín

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  2. I have no self-consciousness issues in commenting whenever/where ever. Firstly, the post has to interest me enough for me to have a say – negative/positive – doesn’t matter.

  3. Stephanie says:

    So I chose to do the FDA approving birth control for my project(i’m a junior in high school) and this helped me out so much. You’d think it’d be easy finding an advertisement for birth control in the 1900s..It’s not.

    Thank you for this article.
    And post more!

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