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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.

Date: 2011-08-02 09:24 pm (UTC)
onyxlynx: The words "Onyx" and "Lynx" with x superimposed (Default)
From: [personal profile] onyxlynx
I hope the Naruto-verse is not using pennyroyal for contraception; it's toxic to the liver. Like, seriously.

That aside, as someone who is interested in women ninjas, I'm going to have to seek out Naruto; it sounds like fun.

(Via the Network page.)

Date: 2011-08-02 10:04 pm (UTC)
phoebe_zeitgeist: (Default)
From: [personal profile] phoebe_zeitgeist
I assume there's reason to believe that your ninjas aren't using the obvious method of being in such serious athletic training that their body fat ratio won't support menstruation, or a pregnancy? I wouldn't ordinarily make an assumption like that about every soldier in an army, for the obvious reasons; but you did say "ninjas." And I'd have guessed that ninjas are athletes in peak training, pretty much as a job description. If that were what was going on there'd be an occasional pregnancy, but it wouldn't happen often; most of the time anybody who wanted to get pregnant would have to deliberately alter her regimen to allow it.

Date: 2011-08-02 10:28 pm (UTC)
phoebe_zeitgeist: (Default)
From: [personal profile] phoebe_zeitgeist
Magic breasts? That's not fat in there, it's air or even helium cells?

I mean, I used to have a rack like that. And there was no bounding through trees at highway speeds with 'em, not without practically a skyscraper's worth of infrastructure to manage the effects of gravity. Filled with helium cells, though, they'd have behaved just like anime-heroine breasts. And wouldn't have interfered with the whole body fat/suppression of menstruation thing, either.

It's my new general hypothesis of anime, I think. And also, God, do I ever not want to go to this damned hearing. The things my brain will do to avoid thinking about it, it amazes me at times.

Date: 2011-08-03 04:19 am (UTC)
mitsuhachi: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mitsuhachi
You just totally made my day, with that. Now, whenever I see totally flipping ridiculous anime boob!physics, I will probably giggle instead of rage. <3

Date: 2011-08-02 10:35 pm (UTC)
ticktocktober: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ticktocktober
Is there a reason you don't address barrier methods? That seems like the simplest solution, especially when combined with chemical methods. I don't recall where I read it, but apparently the butt of a lemon makes a handy cervical cap, and the added acidity helps kill semen to boot. Granted, it probably isn't as stealthy as ingesting something before or after or dabbing something down there, and if stealthy contraception is necessary to carry out mission-related nookie, yeah that'd be a problem.

Although, what about some sort of genjutsu? It's been awhile since I've read any Naruto canon, but could you make the case that a very-early-pregnancy genjutsu could trick the body into believing it's already pregnant?

Date: 2011-08-05 02:28 am (UTC)
krait: a sea snake (krait) swimming (Default)
From: [personal profile] krait
Heh. I admit, my first thought when I read the bit about ancient methods and fatality was the crocodile-dung concoction of the Egyptians. Granted, I have no idea about the bacterial composition of crocodile dung, but -- substitute any kind of claylike mud (maybe from a sulfurous spring, for germ inhibition) and fine particulate matter for strength, and I see no reason it wouldn't work as a barrier...

Alternatively, a sponge soaked in some kind of herbal (or strongly alcoholic?) spermicidal liquid? Sponges, after all, are a natural substance, albeit one that would have to be brought in from ocean-faring towns/cultures.

More fantastically, and dependent on the fantasy world, but -- birth control pills are basically estrogen, and some plants (soy, in our world, is one) and animal products do contain estrogen-like chemicals; maybe someone noticed over time that women who work in the fields and are eating it every day rarely get pregnant during that period? Maybe someone's figured out how to extract a concentrated solution from animal placenta or those plants, to be taken through non-oral means?

Coming from the opposite direction, maybe someone's figured out how to make a crude *testosterone* supplement, which would 'enhance training'... and subsequently noticed that the women using it have trouble conceiving?

Of course, honestly, it seems perfectly sensible to me that instead of the "put on a condom before having sex" routine of modern(ish) women, they'd just develop a "take your potion after sex" routine. No reason it wouldn't seem perfectly normal/routine/obvious to a culture where that was the most reliable method! Especially a pre-cellular biology culture, who wouldn't really have an understanding of "fertilisation, 24 hours, then implantation, then development" (unless this world has some sort of ninja magic-science I am unaware of); to them, there's a vague period of between a few days and a month where you are Schroedinger's pregnancy: until you miss a period, you just don't know. Take your potion, and you never have to find out.

On the flip side, I bet they could manage effective enough condoms of the sort made from animal intestine or bladder... And a female ninja probably has a pretty good chance of "convincing" her partner to use it, even if a civilian woman might not!

Date: 2011-08-02 11:10 pm (UTC)
takemyrevolution: take what you want and pay for it says god (Suigetsu/Sasuke)
From: [personal profile] takemyrevolution
Since the Naruto-verse actually has fairly modern technology, it seems reasonable that they'd have contraceptive options very similar to our own. I'm sure they'd have a morning after pill and possibly some kind of IUD, though mostly I would assume they'd use jutsu of some sort. They use jutsu for everything else, so why not?

Date: 2011-08-03 01:02 am (UTC)
wombat1138: (spot)
From: [personal profile] wombat1138
Interestingly, it seems that some texts of Taoist esoteric smut were preserved only in Japan, despite originating in China. If you go with that, then there's the whole principle of men conserving their ki by avoiding ejaculation. (Mental discipline, cockrings, perineal pressure etc.)

Date: 2011-08-03 01:31 am (UTC)
wombat1138: (Default)
From: [personal profile] wombat1138
Hmm-- I'm also turning up a few references to Taoist nuns having the ability to suppress their own menstruation as part of their own qi/ki conservation. The techniques appear to include lots of Kegel exercises and breast self-massage (to stimulate estrogen, according to one modern gloss).

*snert* The breast massage supposedly expands small breasts, though otoh it's also said to make "large, slack breasts" smaller and firmer.

Date: 2011-08-03 05:20 pm (UTC)
takemyrevolution: take what you want and pay for it says god (Sasori/CreepyPuppetBoyfriend)
From: [personal profile] takemyrevolution
In a world where it is apparently okay to turn one's body into a mummified puppet and rip out one's intestines and replace them with cable, I don't feel an IUD is out of reach. But that is only my opinion.

I keep wanting to write something about technology in the Naruto-verse, but I would have to dig through my old issues of Shounen Jump which are, sadly, in a storage building where I can't get to them right now. :(

Date: 2011-08-05 03:42 pm (UTC)
kenllama: llama, with caption "I feel pretty" (Default)
From: [personal profile] kenllama
It is worth noting that the lactation != fertile method is woefully unreliable. I know a few folks who have counted, and found out the hard way. The bodyfat thing seems plausible given the likely physiques of actual ninjas, but it is clear that y'all have considered the deficits of this vis-a-vis anime ninja physiques ;)

Date: 2011-08-07 09:12 pm (UTC)
marycontrary: (Default)
From: [personal profile] marycontrary
It really struck me that Kirigakure *starts* with 50% of their children dead because killing another student was what it took to graduate. I've had to assume they're adopting pretty heavily and expecting the orphans to make up the bulk of the dead and that most women were having lots of children to keep up... and still I have to assume that the custom started in the middle of a war where 50% loss in the first year was expected, so they were trying to select the survivors as efficiently as possible.

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