Ancient Egyptians’ guide to sex
Much of our sexual health medicine is rooted in practices that first took place thousands of years ago
As Valentine’s Day approaches, the UK Health Protection Agency will launch its week long awareness campaign on sexually transmitted infections.1 Sexual health services predict an increased strain on an already oversubscribed service during this day, which is traditionally marked with raised levels of sexual activity. The surge in prevalence of sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancies reflect the inadequacy of the service in meeting current demand.
Although we celebrate the progress of genitourinary medicine, how advanced are we in this specialty, compared with our predecessors? Thousands of years ago, did Cleopatra, before engaging in sex with Mark Antony, consider that she should use contraception? Was Antony concerned that the Queen of Egypt might have a sexually transmitted infection? Surprisingly, for this historical couple, the answer to both these questions could have been “yes.”
The topic of reproductive health is not a new concept; several of the papyruses discovered in the