2018 11 26 wives tales title

From honey to wooden penis: the 12 weirdest fertility myths

Intelligent sensor patches are the present of fertility testing. But how did people hope to increase their chances of getting pregnant in the past? Here are the 12 weirdest old wives' tales about the desire to have children.

As we continue to develop the technology behind femSense - a product that is so accurate in detecting a woman's fertile days, we just had to ask ourselves: what did women try to get pregnant in the old days? The answer is: really, really weird stuff!

We've taken a closer look at some of these myths, traditions and legends from around the world about fertility and the desire to have children. Most of these old wives' tales are pretty crazy, some are downright disgusting - but hey, maybe one or two are worth a try...?

1. a gentle introduction with honey and cinnamon

There may even be some truth to this myth: Research suggests that cinnamon may benefit women with irregular menstrual cycles. The Greek-Islamic medicine Yunani and Ayurvedic medicine have also used honey for thousands of years to strengthen male semen.

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2. for those with a stronger stomach: how about baboon urine?

Traditionally, tribes in Zimbabwe drink a cocktail of baboon urine and beer to help couples conceive. More recently, a sacred love potion made from baboon urine has been used to keep husbands faithful to their wives. The potion is made from soil soaked in baboon urine and, mixed with herbs and root powder, is applied directly to the female genitals before sexual intercourse. Jamm!

3. sleeping on a giant in Dorset

Since supposedly Victorian times, the 55 metre tall, grassy Cerne Abbas Giant in Dorset, England, has been said to "cure" childlessness. Childless couples danced around the erected maypole for more fertility. For an even stronger effect, it was recommended to sleep on the giant grass figure or even have sex. Interestingly, statistics show that the surrounding towns and villages have the highest birth rate in the country. So: off to Dorset!

4. drink bug juice shots

According to tradition, an aphrodisiac made from the blister beetle was used in ancient Rome. The poisonous "Spanish fly" was pressed into a juice, the consumption of which led to swelling and inflammation in the genital area. A famous proponent of the Spanish fly was allegedly the German Emperor Henry IV (1050-1106), who used to use the rush of blood between his loins to enrich his love life. An ancient Viagra substitute - with sometimes life-threatening side effects.

5. eat swallow's nest soup

This traditional Chinese speciality is said to have an aphrodisiac and generally invigorating effect: the soup made from the saliva of cave birds costs up to €3500 for 500g. Not so much because of the flavour as because of the time-consuming extraction and preparation, as the collectors often have to climb down steep cliffs at the risk of their lives to reach the (hopefully uninhabited) nests. Asian sexual enhancer - Made in China.

6. getting soaking wet in Hungary

In the Easter custom practised in Hollókő, Hungary, all unmarried women are still doused with cold water from buckets by the boys on Easter Monday. The tradition of "watering girls" dates back to the 2nd century and is a fertility ritual rooted in the region's pre-Christian past. In the past, girls were harassed with ice-cold well water in winter temperatures throughout Hungary, but nowadays they are usually only sprayed homeopathically. Only in Hollókő do they stick to the classic version of this "Ice Bucket Challenge".

7. have your nose pierced

Body piercings are not uncommon these days, but probably more for aesthetic or pleasure-enhancing reasons. Who would think that they could increase fertility? According to Ayurvedic medicine, however, the left side of the nose is connected to the female reproductive organs, and piercing the left nostril is said to facilitate menstruation and childbirth. For anyone who has always been looking for a good reason to have their nose pierced - you're welcome 🙂

8. walk through a stone ring

Mên-an-Tol, commonly known as the Crick Stone, is a traditional Bronze Age megalithic formation in the English county of Cornwall. Passing through the ring-shaped stone in a certain direction or in a certain number at the right time in the lunar calendar was believed to be central to healing processes. Due to the obvious feminine symbolism, it was also believed that the perforated stone promoted fertility in women. Legend has it that any woman who passes through the ring backwards seven times during a full moon will soon become pregnant.

9. kissing a cemetery statue

Another interesting myth even attributes magical powers to a dead man: Victor Noir was a 19th century political journalist whose grave in the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris has become a symbol of fertility. It is rumoured that kissing the statue on the lips, placing a flower in his hat and rubbing the mysterious bulge in his trousers will lead to a happier sex life and increase fertility. As a result, these areas of the otherwise oxidised bronze statue are shiny and polished.

10. asking for a miracle in the Naples Miracle Chair

The "Sedia della fertilità" in Naples is said to have been owned by St Mary Francesca of the Five Wounds of Jesus. Childless women from all over the world queue outside the small flat in the picturesque Spanish quarter of Naples to ask the saint for a miracle in the miracle chair. A nun draws the sign of the cross over the woman sitting in the armchair and her belly, while greetings from already-fulfilled children's wishes in pink and light blue laugh from the walls all around.

11. leave a phallic symbol in the penis cavity

According to one legend, Phra Nang was an Indian princess who was killed in a shipwreck. According to another legend, she was the wife of a fisherman who was lost at sea and spent her life waiting in a cave for his return. Today, the Sea Goddess Cave on Phra Nang Beach in Thailand is not only a place of sacrifice for local fishermen who pray for a safe journey and a good catch. It is also home to a shrine to the goddess of fertility, which is said to increase fertility when visited. What makes the cave a particular magnet for visitors, however, is the daily growing number of hundreds of phallic symbols; mostly very realistically crafted wooden penises.

12. visit the "Penis Festival" in Komaki, Japan

For almost 1500 years, the Japanese have been celebrating "Honen-sai" to praise fertility and good harvests. In this festival of love, volunteers attempt to carry a long wooden penis around their town to ensure fertility for the inhabitants of Komaki. The local temple, Tagata, is also home to many handmade phallic statues that allow couples to pray for a child and unmarried people to pray for a husband or wife. A different kind of singles exchange...

These were our top 12 weirdest fertility myths from around the world! Can't find anything that sounds like the perfect solution? Not so bad, we have a small but nice newsletter for anyone interested in cycle updates. As a thank you for subscribing, you'll receive a discount on the next femSense order in our shop.  No old wives' tale! 🙂


Miller (2022), Understanding Infertility: Symptoms and Causes

Saunayama (2022), 'Baboon urine' sex enhancer flood Zimbabwe streets

Alleyne (2022), Cerne Abbas Giant 'inspires' fertility boom

Parry (2022), Healing Powers of Birds' Nest Soup Remain Mysterious


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