Since we are currently talking a lot about hygiene, I wanted to dedicate this post to a sanitary amenity that has meanwhile lost its original societal role: the bidet.
Invented in France in the 17th century, its main function was to serve as a post-coital vaginal douche. Up until the 1960s (when the pill took over as the most efficient and popular contraceptive method) bidets were therefore equipped with a fountain-like device. Douching was widely regarded as a popular contraceptive method and performed through various means. Those range from the Éguisier irrigator (a self-acting irrigator) and various “fountain” or “douching syringes”, to the bidet—the most luxurious option. Douches were performed using water, vinegar, chemicals and sometimes even Coca Cola (!).
Nowadays vaginal douches are only performed for hygiene reasons, given that this method has lost its connotation as a contraceptive.