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9 Crazy Sex Tips From History

your new cheat sheet

by elizabeth koke

History teaches us a lot of things about the past, present, and future. Of course, the required classes that you're forced to take during the fundamental years of your education are usually a little dry—you learn about wars and societies and religions and governments. What they don't teach you in primary school, however, is the freaky stuff. But don't worry, we'll catch you up on everything you missed between the lines because your teacher was trying to stay on task. There's a saying that goes "history repeats itself"—whether or not it's an accurate statement, we're down to try out some of these old-school sex tips. Flip through the gallery above, we've got nine quick lessons you won't want to miss.

From Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt...

1. Eat Lettuce! Or Don’t.

Vicki Leon, author of The Joy of Sexus: Lust, Love & Longing in the Ancient World writes that the Greeks believed that lettuce was an anti-aphrodisiac resulting in wilting members, while the Egyptians believed in leafy greens and served romaine at their orgies, which they held in honor of the fertility god

From Ancient China...

2. Have Sex with a Bunch of Virgins

A manual written around 300 BCE says if a man wants to become immortal, he should have sex with a different virgin every night, but without ejaculating.

From the Middle Ages...

3. Listen to Your Priest: Missionary Only.

All of us are used to old white men telling us what to do with our bodies. I mean, take the Senate. But in 1215, a priest named Johannes Teutonicus became really obsessed with sex positions. (I wonder why? How’s celibacy goin’ for ya, Jo?) He announced that the only natural position is the “coital” position, what we call Missionary, and everything else was sinful.

From the Victorian Era...

4. Horny? Eat Cornflakes

The Victorian Era was indeed a strange time in human sexuality. According to historian Fern Riddell, J. H. Kellogg invented cornflakes during this time period as an intentionally bland food, believing that eating bland foods helped reduce your appetite for sex.

From the Victorian Era...

5. Sneezing + Horseback Riding = Birth Control

Don’t sneeze after sex (if you want to get pregnant)! If you don’t want to get pregnant, go horseback riding. A brisk trot over a rough road specifically, according to Dr. Eugene Becklard’s book from the 1850s. Thanks, Victorians.

From the 1920s...

6. “Deflower” Gradually

A sex book from the 1920s titled Sex Knowledge for Men advises men to be truly loving husbands by taking their time, sometimes up to a week before making “a full connection” with their wives. Consent! Romance! Okay, maybe we kind of like this one.  

From the 1920s...

7. Douche with Lysol!

Yes, you read that correctly. Ads from the 1920s market Lysol for feminine hygiene. It is understood that “feminine hygiene” was code for birth control in this context, and douching was the most common birth-control method until the pill became available in the '60s. Not only is douching not a very effective means of birth control, but Lysol, in many cases caused inflammation and poisoning Several Lysol-douche deaths were also reported during the early 20th Century.

From the 1960s...

8. Have Sex with Your Boss

“A girl in love with her boss will knock herself out seven days a week and wish there were more days. Tough on her, but fabulous for business!” says Helen Gurley Brown in her infamous Sex and the Single Girl.

From the 1970s...

9. Use Your Big Toe

“The pad of the male big toe applied to the clitoris or the vulva generally is a magnificent erotic instrument," writes Dr. Alex Comfort in illustrated classic The Joy of Sex in 1972. When this book was reissued in 2008, they took out some of the outdated and illegal advice, like having sex on motorcycles and while riding horseback, but this little nub of advice remains. So there you have it.