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branchandroot: cherries (cherries)
[personal profile] branchandroot
Just because this tends to tick me off, and it matters for the Naruto-verse.

So. Before the form of hormonal contraception currently known as the Pill, there were a bunch of herbal, chemical, and mechanical options for contraception. They fall into three general categories: barriers, measures that make the vagina and uterus inhospitable to sperm and thus prevent conception, and measures that make the uterus resistant to implanting and thus prevent gestation. (Yes, the morning-after pill is not a new idea; it is, in fact, a really, really old one.)

There is also the good old fallback of lactation, since lactation suppresses the menstrual cycle. But that only works when there's already a kid. So if you're a writer and thinking about "how to get my characters birth control", well that's more toward the family-planning end of things.

The thing is, every single one of the pre-modern methods are limited use approaches. They are used just before or after coitus. They may, in the case of something like pennyroyal, be used regularly once a month to ensure menstruation, but only for a few days. Half these options are "make a paste of these two or three things and dab it inside before you go for it". The other half tend strongly toward "take X much of this substance in the morning". (In a few of the second case, one also prays that it's enough to kill a blastocyst without killing oneself; it's really amazing how many places thought ingesting mercury for one purpose or other was a good idea.)

You wouldn't think this needs to be said, but apparently it does for some writers: this is the exact opposite of the Pill. There is no pre-modern form of birth control I have ever come across that is taken daily. That is an approach used with a medication whose effectiveness relies on constantly adding small doses of hormones which are not being natively produced. There is no herbal Pill, okay?


Of course, this leaves me with the question of what ninjas are using.

...that probably sounds very strange out of context doesn't it?

Given the apparent sophistication of Naruto-verse chemistry, I suspect they would know the local equivalent of Queen Anne's Lace or Pennyroyal and refine it very handily. A morning-after approach seems not unlikely. An every-day hormone seems possible, but contraindicated by the busyness and stress of the ninja lifestyle; I think a remember-it-every-day pill would have too high a failure rate. I also suspect, given the equal sophistication of chakra-based medical techniques that there would be procedures taught to all medics to quickly and easily abort pregnancies as well as support or save them.

That, however, gets us to the sociological aspects, which are always much more influential than simple "does that grow here" considerations. And here's where it seems like it could get complicated. A woman in the field would likely be under a lot of pressure not to get pregnant, and yet the focus on bloodlines suggests that there is an equal pressure on any strong ninja, male or female, to reproduce before they get themselves killed. Kurenai is clearly pulled off duty as soon as she's past the first month or two, even in the middle of a war, even though she's a jounin. That suggests that the choice to reproduce is a very valued one, and given every consideration. Given there's no hint of her and Asuma getting married, or any hint of censure against her for that, I think there's also a very pragmatic edge to this: if you have kids, fantastic, it doesn't matter how or where or with who, go for it baby. And yet, here's Tsunade, the leader of the village no less, who has clearly chosen to end the Senju line with herself, and there is no hint of censure over that either.

(The external explanation, of course, is that Kishimoto just didn't think of these issues, but his obliviousness leaves us with a whole lot of canonical leeway.)

So what I'm guessing is that there's a lot of family-style pressure to reproduce (when are we going to have grandkids, dear, that would be so lovely) but an equal acknowledgement that talent and risk must both be compensated and anyone already doing her part in defense of the village also has the right to decide that she's not spawning. A morning-after pill that's generally available and probably part of any ninja's field equipment, along with the antiseptic salve, seems likely. Any field pregnancy that slips through may be balanced against ease of extraction, importance of the mission, likelihood of success without that team member, and possibly the strength of her and his bloodlines to decide whether a) she wants to go home and have it and b) this is possible to do.

I also suspect this is very different than civilian mores, and that civilian women face a lot more pressure to have a couple kids to fill out the ranks. If Sakura's family is civilian, that could lead to some serious conflicts for her.
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