Fertility. Some contemplate this word with longing. Others with dread. Some take for granted that they will become pregnant when they're good and ready, and look forward to that time. And some others will do whatever is necessary to avoid becoming pregnant as long as possible, hopefully for the rest of their lives.
From the beginning of humanity, running neck and neck with the strong tide of the biological imperative to procreate and multiply, is a zealous desire to thwart fertility and reproduction. The perennial search for the Holy Grail of the most effective contraception has been ongoing and impassioned.
In order to prevent conception -- or failing this, to expel the product of conception -- women have been willing to swallow an astonishing assortment of objects, plants and liquids, from mercury to arsenic, tansy to pennyroyal. Women have inserted barriers ranging from lemons to oiled paper, from beeswax to sponges, within their bodies.
Men have wrapped themselves in lamb intestines, leather, tortoise shells and oiled silk paper, or the more sophisticated linen sheath secured with ribbon. For some years latex has been king. More recently, surgery has become a feared and yet favored method for many men, admired and applauded by their women.
Days and weeks have been counted. Body temperatures taken and tracked. In the last century, diaphragms and IUDs were the objects of choice for women. For the last 50 years, swallowing pills has been quite popular and convenient. Now we've advanced to the application of contraceptive patches.
Generally speaking, male and female bodies seem to have been designed to collide and propagate. And it happens a lot. For many people it happens even when they don't want it to. For others, with some strategizing and deliberate care, it happens only when they want it to. But the need for such strategizing and deliberation is essential for success with this scenario.
Fertility, for much of the world, through the eons of time, has been hard to hold back, straining to burst out at any and every opportunity. Hormones rage beginning in adolescence, and burn for decades.