Margaret Sanger, "Family Limitation Draft," 1936.

Source: "Library of CongressLibrary of Congress Microfilm 130:2."

This is a revision of Sanger's 1914 Family Limitation. For other versions included in the digital edition, see Family Limitation, 3rd or 4th edition, ca., 1915, Family Limitation, 8th edition, 1918, Family Limitation, 9th edition, 1919, and Family Limitation, 12th edition, ca. 1922. For additional editions, see the Margaret Sanger Microfilm, Smith College Collections, Collected Documents Series and Library of Congress Microfilm.

Is Continence not the best Method of Birth Control?

The above question is often asked me by people who for [some?] ↑religious↓ reasons object to the chemical or mechanical methods of contraception.

My reply is that continence is a very certain method when strictly applied but I can not agree that it is the best method for married people especially during the years ↑age↓ of ↑early↓ marriage up to ↑the↓ forty one or two first or second year.

Continence in marriage may be practiced providing both parties are in accord with the idea practice & when there is ↑ creation ↓ activity which sublimates the creative energies ↑of both↓ as in [work?] for “causes” with religious zeal ↑and↓ ardor.

This condition unfortunately does not exist for millions ↑of people↓ who have no “cause” to espouse & whose existence is ↑a↓ hum drum routine from year to year. True continence in marriage means no sexual contact from except when a child is desired as a result of that contact union.

A loving couple may be strictly continent for 364 days during the year and should temptation or desire or [one word illegible] ↑passion↓ overcome them on the 365th day a baby may arrive. One union a year can provide a couple with a large family in ten years. Besides this strain method has been known to cause nervous strain & tension, sleeplessness, loss of appetite & many other nervous symptoms to the man & [bottom of page page torn] the woman.

[Reason] for Family Limitation

Of all the problems that confront humanity today, in all countries climes and nations there is one that remains an individual problem and must be solved by the individuals involved – Marriage, Parenthood, love and Children (the birth of).

No married man or woman is free unless knowledge of contraceptives is available for his and her use.

What is birth control!

It is assumed that you as an intelligent person, already a parent or desirous of being one later on, shares the above ideas and wish to obtain the best and most effective methods of birth control.

I shall give herein the knowledge gained through many years of personal study in various countries and through over twenty-years of experience in clinical procedure in Holland, England, and USA.

The practice of continence is a method strictly for the individual not to be advised without due consideration of the factors of health and experience and medical advice should be obtained.

Is there a safe period?

Perhaps there is. If it is true that every woman has a period when conception can not take place such a fact would have great scientific value. The doubt of its accuracy comes from the irregularity of the menstrual cycle and the fact that conception has taken place in precisely those days where it is supposed to be “safe.” The words of Knauss and Ogino base their conclusions on the assumption that the first to the tenth and the 18th to the 28th days of the menstrual cycle are the infertile or safe days. The significance of this method lies in the interest it has aroused in medical, religious, and scientific circles. The R.C. Church has given its approval to this method.

I do not advise a woman to depend upon a Safe period unless she is willing to take a risk. It has not been sufficiently established to the satisfaction of scientific or medical bodies yet to advise it as a general method of birth control.

When a douche can not be had.

When the convenience of a douche is not at hand, there is another method of cleansing the vaginal canal by simpler means.

Take a piece of cotton or a small soft sponge. Dip it into a basin of warm water with a little soap added. Place the cotton or sponge around the first finger and cleanse the passage thoroughly. Discard the cotton each time, but keep the sponge for future use.

This cleansing can be done in a squatting position over a vessel or basin. Always cleanse the vagina before removing the cervical or diaphragm pessary. Do not be afraid to introduce the cotton or sponge and assist in the cleansing of the semen from the folds of the membrane. You can soon tell by the feeling that it is sufficiently clean.

A douche or swabbing as above helps to keep the parts in a health condition and prevents the male cell (sperm) from moving onward to the womb.

Use of the Sheath or Condom.

To overcome this difficulty is important. It can be overcome by advice and knowledge. Much depends upon the early education of the girl, her inhibitions and reactions towards sex, but more depends upon the attitude of the man toward the sex act also upon his attitude toward her response. Consult someone who is qualified to advise on this problem.

The use of the [cervical] diaphragm pessary.

One of the most reliable means of prevention is the diaphragm. These come in various sizes ranging from 50 to 100 mm. There are different makes and names, such as Ramses, H.R. Clinical, Durex, Dutch, Mensinga, Haire and numerous other trade names. Some made of coil and others the flat watch spring. It is the diaphragm pessary that is largely used in the clinics in U.S.A. and England. It has stood the test of time for nearly ↑over↓ fifty years. It was invented in Holland by Dr. Mensinga and Dr. Jacob in 1879, but remodeled in U.S.A. by Julius Schmid Co. in 1918 with a coil spring and more flexible like rubber.

Reports from various clinics give its use with a contraceptive jelly 97% success. (MS ↑“first”↓ introduced it into U.S.A. in 1916.)

Its chief drawback is that it must be fitted properly by a qualified person who understands the structure of the woman’s anatomy. It also requires instruction in its application and care. It is not applicable to cases with marked relaxation of the vaginal walls. But there is another type the [matrisolus] diaphragm that is most satisfactory in these cases. Frequently a cervical cap may be used with satisfaction where the diaphragm is not advised. Its success depends mainly upon the proper size being gauged by the Doctor and adequate instruction of fitting it ↑given↓ to the patient.

It is adequate, reliable, and comfortable and when properly cared for by the patient will last one year and often two years. The American [illegible] have spent much time and money on research in the preparations of rubber ↑are now↓ giving the public an article superior in quality to what was formerly ↑ever↓ known before.

Before removing the pessary, the vaginal canal should be cleaned. If a douche is available take a quart of warm soapy water or any other antiseptic douche and cleanse thoroughly. Remove the pessary and continue to cleanse the vagina until the parts feel absolutely rid of jelly or other secretions.

The Cervical Cap Pessary

The cervical pessary comes in three sizes and several kinds. The American mizpah and the Czech or French pessary. The Pro Race

At one times the cervical pessary was the only kind used in England and America. Owing to its frequent failures and the facts of its concerning its use this ↑it↓ has been discarded in general use for the diaphragm. The cervical cap is applicable only in frequently in special cases where the diaphragm can not ↑be↓ used as referred to on page ( ).


The small net covered sponge found in most chemists shops has not been found satisfactory as a preventive.

A sponge must act as an occlusive or barrier across the cervix or act as a carrier of the spermicide. In the former case the sponge must be cut out and shaped to fit so it will not be pushed out of place.

The sponge used as a carrier has great possibilities.

It should be soaked with an antiseptic jelly or powder and inserted as far back as it will go.

Olive oil is not a spermicide. Vinegar ↑and water↓ and lemon juice and half water cab also be used with the sponge, but if the liquid escapes before the semen has been deposited there will be nothing left as a contraceptive when it is most needed.

A recent formula of a Foam Powder ↑now being↓ tried out in Miami Florida ↑by the C.R. Bureau↓ promises a hopeful safe and cheap contraceptive for mass use where the diaphragm cannot be applied. The Pow ↑Powder↓ is used ↑spread↓ on a rubber sponge ↑2x2 inches inch thick↓ wet with plain water. The powder shaken on the wet sponge until it foams. The sponge is then inserted into the vagina as far as it will go and left until after the next morning. When it is removed, the passage cleansed or douched and the sponge washed with soap and water and put away until further use. It is a cheap and clean method . Accordingly to the authorities using it their has been a ↑very↓ small percentage of failures. The sponge is better than cotton as it is resilient and holds the spermicide and releases it only on pressure. or A small string is attached but it is tucked out of the way and is not noticeable.

This was the method used in an experiment in Florida with the idea of providing women with a birth control method when they could not go to a Doctor.

The sponge is left in place for not less than four hours and preferable all night and ↑its↓ removal is followed by a soapy douche. If a jelly is used instead of the foam powder then the following

lactic acid 1.5%

boric “ ” 4.5%

Chinosol 1: 10,000

in a glycerite of starch base.

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