History

Lysol As A Form Of Birth Control?

In 1889 Lysol brand, an antiseptic disinfectant was first introduced as a means to battle the cholera epidemic that was raging in Germany. 

Then, in 1918, during the first wave of the flu epidemic, the disinfectant was touted as an effective means of battling the virus.

Lysol was then seen in both drug stores and hospitals twelve years later and was finally released in 1962 as the current aerosol version that we know today. 

A little known fact is that in the 1920s, women were encouraged to use the item to wash their genitals.

One would wonder, in today’s society, why the encouragement of such a practice was so prevalent. 

The answer is quite simple—as historian Andrea Tone enlightens us, the use of the product for feminine hygiene was merely a euphemism for contraception.

Image: Ad Age

The manufacturers of Lysol, Lehn and Fink, published ads that would reference both odors and germs.  They encouraged the keeping of your body “germ-free,” which included the maintaining of “dainty feminine allure”—which translated into preventing pregnancy.

The Comstock Act of 1873 was a federal law that declared both contraceptive devices and such information as obscene and prohibited by law. 

As a result, twenty-four states also fell in line with the law, passing further legislation to restrict and control access to any and all information on birth control.

Before the formula for Lysol was changed in 1952, one of the major components of the cleaner was creosol.  Creosol is a very crude carbolic acid, which is a distillate of both coal and wood. 

In high concentrations, the solution would reportedly cause severe burning, inflammation, and in some cases, death.

As it turned out, over the course of the years, it was realized that the disinfectant was not effective as a form of contraception, as originally claimed. 

It was discovered that the majority of the women who used it, for this reason, did, in fact, end up pregnant.