As kids, we are often told “mother knows best,” but in this unusual case, mother was wrong — way wrong — and most likely off her rocker. Although we’ve all heard our fair share of ancient birth control methods, from sweet Coca-Cola douches to sour lemon spritzes, a Colombian woman has dismissed these unusual methods, along with a condom or the pill, and opted for a vegetable: a potato. An unnamed 22-year-old woman from Honda, Colombia, was recently hospitalized after her “potato contraceptive” began to grow roots in her vagina after just two weeks of insertion.
The patient began to experience severe lower abdominal pains this week after the potato had germinated and grown roots inside her. Carolina Rojas, the young woman’s attending nurse, pointed the blame at the mother for giving bad advice on contraceptive methods. “My mom told me that if I didn’t want to get pregnant, I should put a potato up there, and I believed her,” the unnamed patient told doctors, according to Colombia Reports, the country's largest and most respected English news website.
It’s not surprising the potato flourished inside the woman’s vagina. Potatoes thrive in the dark because they’re tubers, since they develop off the roots of the potato plant. Although the leaves need sunlight, the tubers need to grow in the dark under the soil, according to Michigan State University’s “A Guide to Growing Potatoes In Your Home Garden.”
Doctors were able to remove the root vegetable without the need for surgery, and even assured the woman she would not experience any lasting physical effects. Unfortunately, this “bizarre” case isn’t so uncommon in Colombia, and other parts of South America, highlighting the serious issue of a lack of sex education via this 22-year-old’s naiveté. Although sex education has been compulsory in Colombian schools since the 1990s, talking about the topic is still considered taboo between elders and youngsters.
Bienestar Familiar, the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare, recently launched a campaign aimed at reducing the high levels of teenage pregnancy. The organization found young people’s general rejection of conventional contraception methods, accompanied by a patriarchal society, led to more girls being pressured to have unsafe sex.
Maria Eugenia Rosselli, the Colombian Ministry of Education sociologist, acknowledged the lack of traditional forms of contraception is due to the lack of the “sex talk” between young people and their parents, according to Colombia Reports. This has led to a void of information, high levels of unwanted pregnancies, and sexually transmitted diseases. Parents, like the mom of the Colombian woman, help perpetuate birth control myths in an effort to avoid discussing the ABC’s of sex.
Unfortunately, these unusual forms of “contraception” are not limited to the confines of places like Colombia. They extend as far as Europe, specifically the UK. In a recent survey of 1,500 British women aged 25 to 34, conducted by Bayer Healthcare, researchers found some people are using cling film, sandwich bags, and latex gloves as contraception instead of condoms or other methods. Even more alarming, one in 10 women believed it was impossible to get pregnant during your period, while 30 percent needed to take the morning after pill, the DailyMail reported. This highlights the gap of knowledge and the misconceptions that continue to exist with birth control.
To explore the very bizzare and even dangerous methods of contraception used in the past, the organization Engender Health, which works to promote family planning methods and HIV/STD prevention around the world, has released a WTFP?! (Where’s the Family Planning?!) campaign to engage the more than 220 million women worldwide who don’t have access to contraception. The video describes what women do and have done to prevent pregnancy. The unconventional and downright weird food methods are listed below:
1. Crocodile dung was mixed with honey and attempted to be used as a spermicide.
2. Weasel testicles were worn during intercourse.
3. Onion juice was believed to be an oral contraceptive.
4. As was blacksmith water filled with lead.
5. Ground beaver testicles stirred with moonshine.
6. A thimble was supposed to work as a diaphragm.
7. Pig intestines were used as condoms for centuries.