Contrary to popular belief, the Victorians tended to be pretty open and frank about sex. The old myth about covering the legs of pianos or tables was a joke told by the Victorians about others.
This text is taken from “An exposition of the true Cause and only Cure of the Three Primary Evils: Poverty, Prostitution and Celibacy”, by Dr George Drysdale and published in 1852.
Excepting medical advances and terminology, it could almost have been written today.
The only means by which virtue and the progress of mankind are rendered possible is ‘Preventative Sexual Intercourse’. By this is meant sexual intercourse where precautions are used to prevent impregnation.
…it is only necessary for women to abstain from sexual intercourse during a certain part of the month; and this would leave them about half of each month for the free indulgence of their sexual appetites, without the danger of adding to an overcrowded population….it would probably prevent a good measure of the evils of sexual morbidity, repressed sexual desires, and unexercised sexual organs…
…there are other [methods of contraception], which are much more widely known, and much more generally adopted.
This is done either by the withdrawal of the penis immediately before ejaculation takes place (which is frequently practised by married and unmarried men); by the use of a sheath; by the introduction of a piece of sponge into the vagina, so as to guard the mouth of the womb…or by the introduction of tepid water into the vagina immediately after coition.
…By far the best of these mechanical means I should take to be the sponge, and it might be used during that part of the month in which fecundation can take place…
…many people have an objection to [contraception], because they say it is unnatural. But sexual abstinence is infinitely more unnatural; in fact it is so unnatural, and therefore sinful, that it is totally incompatible with health and happiness.