Methods of Pregnancy Prevention and Prohibition from the Perspective of Muslim Physicians (from the 3rd to the 9th Century AH)

Document Type: Original Article


1 Ph.D. student in history, Department of History, Literature and Human Sciences University of Isfahan, Isfahan University, Isfahan, Iran

2 Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of History, Isfahan School of Literature and Human Sciences, Isfahan, Iran

3 Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of History, Urmia School of Literature and Human Sciences, Urmia, Iran

4 Ph.D., Assistant Professor. Department of History, Isfahan School of Literature and Human Sciences, Isfahan, Iran


During the early centuries of Islam, owing to the familiarity of Muslim scholars and practitioners with other civilizations and, in particular, their familiarity with different branches of science and medicine practiced by other nations, including Greek, Roman, Syrian, Indian and Iranian, as well as the translation of medical texts, medical science flourished among Muslims. Along with the growth of medical knowledge and its role in the development of Islamic society, Islamic physicians paid special attention to the specialization of this knowledge, including the field of obstetrics and gynecology science, leading to its significant development.
From the third through the ninth century, the time period focused on in this study, Muslim doctors devoted most parts of their medical books to the field of obstetrics and gynecology, and some wrote treatises on this field. Issues such as the cause(s) of infertility in men and women and their treatment, the reasons for prohibiting pregnancy, methods of unwanted pregnancy prevention, abortion and abortion prevention methods, pregnancy diagnosis and methods of contraception are found profusely in their books.
Hence, the present study aims to investigate the medical books written by Muslim physicians in the field of contraception and pregnancy prevention methods to find out whether physicians during the Islamic era pay attention to methods of contraception and pregnancy prevention. In addition, it is to see what encouraged them to practice this, what approaches they took and how successful they were. To address these issues, the researchers have focused on the following hypotheses: What methods have Muslim physicians adopted for the purpose of contraceptive methods and pregnancy prohibition: 1) preventive measures for men; 2) preventive measures for women, 3) pregnancy prohibition for both men and women.
It is hoped that findings of this research, while addressing the above hypotheses, will demonstrate some of the achievements of Muslim doctors, such as prescribing medications for permanent infertility, oral contraceptive pills, or medications affecting infertility for certain time and diets recommended before intercourse for decreasing fertility.
Having reviewed original manuscripts, including old medical textbooks, the method adopted in this research is that of descriptive-analytical based on library study.