It has been around a century and much has been done since the birth control and the abortion induction was practiced in the US with a product that today is used to disinfect and sanitise environments, both domestic and in hospital structures.
The Lysol, that in its original formula was containing cresol – which as effects included irritation, burning skin, eyes, mouth and throat, abdominal pain and vomit, heart, liver and kidneys damage – was used to contain firstly a cholera epidemic in Germany in late 800, then the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918.
Perhaps, lacking of epidemics to fight off at the end of the 20’s, the manufacturing company started the commercialisation of Lysol, back then still containing cresol in it, as a product for the female personal hygiene: a diluted solution could be used for vaginal cleansing in order to remove infections, bad smell and in order to guarantee a cheerful married life.
Below: the advertisement underneath would claim something different though: labelling as a product for “vaginal cleansing” was an euphemism which instead would imply its contraceptive ability and, in extreme circumstances, its abortive power.
At the time the contraceptives were illegals, for example in the US they remained so up until 1965 for married couples and until 1972 for singles. The mean advertising campaign of Lysol turned the product into the most utilised birth control method throughout all the years of the Great Depression and until the 50’s.
Certainly the Lysol could also work as a spermicide but along with that the substance was wearing the inner tissues of a woman who would perform vaginal cleansing. In the first ads there were important doctors from Europe appearing and mentioning Lysol incredible powers. Doctors who later on appeared to be inexistent.
The historian Andrea Tone, author of a book about the contraception in the US wrote:
“the scam of the intimate shower with Lysol, was a production of illegality. Since birth control could not be openly publicised, the producers would have used an euphemism to refer to birth control. They took advantage of the customers’ hope”.
But how could they advertise as a safe and delicate that very product which, in those same years, was the most used product to commit suicide?
All pictures belong to the public domain