In the fantasy genre, you sometimes run across some unusual methods of preventing pregnancy. Maybe the characters "know the right herbs," or maybe they have a magic pendant, or maybe humans and elves can't breed, or maybe they're sterile for some reason that only exists in that particular world. It doesn't usually matter what the method is, but it's not the contraception that would be found a modern-day, real-life setting.
Many authors don't bother with it — the characters have sex and the plot continues apace. Nothing new there — authors of many genres want their characters to have sex, but don't want pregnancy to be part of the plot. But some of them feel a need to explain why the one did not lead to the other. Perhaps they think that their characters will look careless if they are not clearly stated to have used contraception. Perhaps they think that they will look careless if they don't tell their readers that "yes, I did think of that, thank you." Maybe the sex happens often enough that otherwise someone would pretty much have to get pregnant just out of random chance. Whatever the cause, they decide to specifically mention the steps taken by their characters to avoid an unwanted pregnancy, rather than just leave it unsaid.
But in fantasy, there are limited options, since modern types of contraception will generally seem out of place (some of them are actually Older Than They Think, but the average viewer might not know this because Reality Is Unrealistic, and they still weren't necessarily common). The answer? Just plain make something up, or else dig up something that's real but relatively unknown. Or for that matter, fictionalize a real method — the ones that find their way into fantasy works are sometimes safer, sanitized versions of how it really works. It rarely matters what — the point is, the characters can entertain themselves as frequently as necessary without the writer having to worry about biological cause and effect getting in the way of the story.
If a fantasy setting has Eternal Sexual Freedom and the writer bothers to explain why, this is probably the most common excuse. The particular method may be Applied Phlebotinum. In settings where it exists, it can often be one of the Women's Mysteries.
Some methods, especially the herbal ones with a grounding in historical fact, are more likely to be Fantasy Abortifacients than Fantasy Contraceptives, though authors tend to ignore the distinction. Sadly, most of the specifics have been lost with the rise of modern medicine so their effectiveness is only speculative.
Compare Magical Abortion.
- Tales of Wedding Rings: Krystal's sister Morion gives her a magical tattoo (on her crotch, of course) that will prevent pregnancy before she has sex with Sato. Due to their usual terrible luck, they don't end up having sex after all, at which point Morion reveals that the contraceptive is only seventy percent effective. Morion notes that if there was a perfectly effective magic spell to prevent pregnancy, everyone would use it and Krystal would have obviously heard of it before.
- The Voynich Hotel: The modus operandi of the Serial Killer Snark is to kill men after she has sex with them. It's later revealed that she has a grove of ergot-infected wheat in a courtyard behind her house, and has been using the fungus to abort any resulting pregnancies. One character finds the rotting evidence in a tunnel under the courtyard after she dumps him there.
- "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme," which is the refrain to, but not the title of, Scarborough Fair, is often said to be a list of herbal abortificients, though since the list wasn't actually added to the ballad until the nineteenth century, it probably isn't. It is true that all of those herbs do have abortificient properties, to the point where some pregnant women are discouraged from eating rosemary.
- In Tam Lin, after Janet finds she is pregnant, she picks some roses — or an herb — and Tam shows up, furious:
Till up then started young Tam Lin,
Says Lady, thou pu's nae mae.
Why pu's thou the rose, Janet,
Amang the groves sae green,
And a' to kill the bonie babe
That we gat us between?
- In some variants, she's advised to do it, and in one, her brother means it to hurt her; Truth in Television, many herbal abortificients can kill the woman as well if too much is taken, or the actual process of abortion can have dangerous results due to haemorrhage or infection.
Then out it speaks her brither dear,
He meant to do her harm:
"There is an herb in Charter wood
Will twine you an the bairn."
- In some variants, she's advised to do it, and in one, her brother means it to hurt her; Truth in Television, many herbal abortificients can kill the woman as well if too much is taken, or the actual process of abortion can have dangerous results due to haemorrhage or infection.
- Lauren Beukes's arc starring Rapunzel in Fairest (a spin-off series of Fables side-stories based around female characters) includes approving references to Frau Totenkinder and Rapunzel making and selling herbal abortifacient mixtures, in what appears to be a throwaway Armed with Canon response to the overt anti-abortion messages that Bill Willingham sometimes put into the main series.
- Many an Avatar: The Last Airbender and/or The Legend of Korra fanfic features waterbenders' capability to bend ... certain fluids out of either themselves or their partners.
- Displaced (The Legend of Zelda): Rare male version; Zelda whips up a contraception elixir for Link, intending to use this to start a discussion on whether they want to start having sex. After a few quick questions about duration and side effects, he drinks it down in one gulp and throws her onto the bed.
Zelda: I-it needs an hour to take effect!
Link: I can waste an hour.
- Enlightenments: The use of contraceptives is the crux of Dormin's plan to stop the Queen, by making Wander sterile until the Queen's body dies of old age.
- Legion in Fairy Tail fan fiction. Authors make mention of characters not only using traditional birth control methods like condoms and pills (and variants on the latter like wafers or potions), but implanted contraceptive lacrimas or wearable anti-fertility charms that may be removed if the user changes his/her mind, the use of area-effect enchantments to create suppression fields, the "humans and Celestial Spirits can't breed" explanation — most of which also serve to prevent the spread of STDs.
- In Freedom's Limits Matron provides slave girls who get 'chosen' by soldiers with a kind of plant (it's only ever referred to as "the herb") which prevents pregnancy, as having a bunch of children running around would be inconvenient and make the slaves less productive. Madavi never mentions taking the herb after she starts having sex with Smador; he made sure to only sleep with her when she wasn't 'in heat' and so assumed they'd be in the clear (they're both quite young and know very little about reproduction). They find out that biology doesn't quite work like that when Madavi does indeed get pregnant.
- From Bajor to the Black, Part II has Eleya refer in passing to being glad she remembered to get her contraceptive implant renewed the other day, before she sleeps with Jerrod Dalton for the first time.
- Paraphrased from about one hundred thousand Harry Potter fanfictions: "He quickly waved his wand and muttered a Protection Spell..."
- Subverted in at least one fic. Ginny states that the reason she's pregnant again (she has as many children as Molly) is because she would rather raise all the children God gives her than use contraception potions which taste awful.
- And subverted in another fic, where they discover that since both Harry and Ginny were Parseltongues (she got it from her experience in Chamber of Secrets), they are both extremely fertile and no amount of spells or potions will keep them from conceiving. The only thing that works? Muggle condoms. And even THAT'S not foolproof, they do break once.
- Face The Strange has the casts form of birth control be a spell that turns semen into water. Unfortunately, the protagonist, Dally, still ends up pregnant due to [[Literature/Twilight Edward Cullen]] sneaking in and using a spell that turns the water back into semen.
- Played with in this The Hobbit fanfic. Herbal abortifacients are known and the human OC mentions having used them in the past, but it is then revealed that dwarf women never risk unwanted pregnancies, they consider vaginal intercourse something one only does in order to conceive. When she learns about the various interesting alternatives, the protagonist enthusiastically converts to this custom.
- As well in a multiple Naruto fics with the contraception Jutsu.
- Specified in Dreaming of Sunshine, which notes that Tsunade invented a jutsu that not only prevents conception but also halts the menstrual cyclewhich can be lifesaving in a world where one's enemies may be able to smell a single drop of blood from miles awayand is easy enough for Academy students to learn. The kunoichi of Konoha revere her for this.
- Observe The Viewing Globe: The Universal Morphing Grid appears to provide all the protection against unplanned pregnancy that Power Rangers on active duty need. Only when they lose their powers are they forced to default to condoms and other traditional birth control methods. Which is extremely fortunate, because the same Grid forces Rangers into Mate or Die scenarios (per se) on a regular basis, and masturbation is severely limited in the help it can provide.
- In One Piece fanfictions in which Luffy is female and paired up with Trafalgar D. Water Law, he uses his powers to remove his sperm from her womb after each sexual encounter. Due to Luffy being a rubber person, condoms are not really an option and no available hormonal contraception can hold up to her metabolism.
- Amy mentions the existence of Mid-childan birth control in Red Jewel Diaries, which is supposed to be 100% effective since it's made via magitek. The fact that she still managed to give birth to twins while on it caused her to suspect that Lindy swapped them out with sugar pills.
- Inverted in Sailor Moon: Legends of Lightstorm: All Sailor Scouts and Justice Champions are infertile by default. Their bodies naturally divert resources away from non-vital areas and towards vital areas, such as the mechanisms that generate their powers. Because of this, Sailor Scouts and female Justice Champions produce no eggs, while male Justice Champions produce no sperm. This can be undone by drinking a chemical that temporarily renders them fertile, an excellent source of which was found in the Tranquility gardens of Venus during the Silver Millennium.
- Percy Jackson in Son of the Western Sea called in his favour from Inari for a form of this, he can only have children when he makes a specific offering to Inari. As Percy himself notes, mortal contraception doesn't exactly work when gods are involved. Poseidon states that there are ways around such curses but does not elaborate on it.
- The How to Train Your Dragon fanfic A Thing of Vikings integrates this into the story's worldbuilding, plus explaining a discrepancy from the film: the venom of Deadly Nadder quills, in the rightand apparently narrowdosage will induce a miscarriage in a pregnant woman. This bit of worldbuilding is used to explain the skewed population ratios between the adults and children of the Hooligan tribeduring the Dragon War and the conflict with the dragon nest, it was very hard for Hooligan women to bring babies to term; this is why Hiccup was seen as so precious by Stoick, why Hiccup's cadre has only six teenagers in a tribe of hundreds of people, and why the tribe is so accepting of outsiders: because they need immigration to keep their numbers up. The information about the quills is a closely held secret by the Hooligan healers out of fear of people misusing them and getting the dosage wrong, which would be lethal.
- The War of the Masters: Peri Wahlberger tells Kanril Eleya in The Burning Of Beruns World that she had a Surprise Pregnancy once despite having been on an implant. She had the fetus transferred to a Uterine Replicator for adoption, and then donated the rest of her eggs to the colony gene bank to be used in IVF treatments. (She doesn't want kids, believing she'd make a terrible mother.)
- Air Awakens: Women use magical Elixir of the Moon, which they apparently need to drink after every intercourse. It tastes terrible but seems to be highly effective and without any side effects.
- The second Girl Genius novel, Agatha H. and the Clockwork Princess, mentions a weed-like plant created by an unknown female spark which acts as an effective contraceptive when brewed in a tea. Few women in Europa go without their morning 'Maiden's Cup'.
- Ascendance of a Bookworm: People with significantly different Mana levels can't have children with each other, making Uptown Girl situations quite rare. There are twists to this, however:
- Having a much higher or much lower quantity of mana in regards to one's own family is far from being unheard of. Those with significantly high levels of mana compared to the rest of their family have a chance of marrying up. Those with significantly low levels of mana compared to the rest of their family are put up for adoption in the lower classes, made servants in their own household or sent to the temple, which means that those not sent to the temple will be marrying down compared to what their lineage should have allowed for.
- In the temple, people of noble birth with extremely low mana cohabitate with commoners raised to be their attendants. People are forbidden to marry, but the discrepency in status between masters and attendants means that sex still happens, usually without the attendant's consent. Child by Rape happens frequently enough that up until some time before Myne took over as orphanage director, the pre-baptism orphans were being cared for by former Sex Slave attendants who had been dismissed for getting pregnant by their masters.
- Someone who is both female and a Mage Born of Muggles runs the risk of becoming a Breeding Slave for the Supernatural Elite.
- The Assassins of Tamurin: Makina Seval's right-hand sorceress Nilang provides her Amazon Brigade, including the heroine, with potions, salves, and herbs to prevent pregnancy. No details about the "preparations" are described for us.
- In Axis of Time, in the 21st century, women can receive an implant that can be controlled via a tablet and provides 100% contraception until such time as they choose to deactivate it or it stops working on its own (it has a finite life). Julia Duffy's implant is nearing its life, and she fears having a child, so she initiates the implant's final function, which permanently sterilizes her. When her husband finds out, they have a big fight over it, followed by a divorce. Then he dies in a plane crash... maybe. Since then, she becomes a mess, drinking and screwing her way through the war, regretting her decision and blaming herself for his death. She finally gets better when she starts to go steady with Prince Harry.
- Black Dogs: Jacyl gets Lyra some contraceptive pills she can use after having "the talk", for if she's attracted to any young men along their journey.
- In the Black Jewels trilogy, there are several references to a "contraceptive brew".
- Notably, this being a 'verse in which women are the dominant gender, it's males who take the contraceptive brews. The only healing brews we see women drinking are general healing tonics and those designed to ease menstrual discomfort.
- In Mercedes Lackey's Swan Lake retelling The Black Swan, Odile gives Odette two magical necklaces for a wedding gift—one is a fertility charm, the other is "the opposite."
- In the Books of the Raksura, queens and female Arbora (that is, all fertile female Raksura, as the warriors are sterile) can suppress their fertility at will.
- The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump had the main character commenting on various forms of contraceptives in the Magitek Urban Fantasy world of his, including the traditional (involving crocodile dung)note , before saying his was a jar with a rooster's cock and a few other things stuffed under his bed. His girlfriend has a different method involving a "cup of roots".
- In Chronicles of a Strange Kingdom contraceptive spells had become very common on a High Fantasy planet Delta. This Eternal Sexual Freedom seems to be a fairly recent development, likely from commoditization of magic in the last few centuries. Plenty of people still stick to old morals. And there are multiple caveats:
- The spells cost money and need to be renewed every month for women or every 13 months for men. Those, who forget, are jokingly referred to as "those, who cannot count". This is how Elmar and several more unrecognized king's bastards were born.
- Different spells are required if one of the parents is an elf. Pureblood elves do know the spell, but tend to be carefree and forgetful. This was the case with Orlando, Mafey, Tolik and Cantor's maternal grandfather.
- Part-elves from Delta often don't know the spell and don't have money to pay a specialist, who does. That's how Orlando got himself a daughter.
- Elves cannot crossbreed with Sharkhi. But as Cantor's parents found out, human-elf hybrids can crossbreed with human-Sharkhi.
- When the Sharkhi gods decide that a particular shaman needs children, no amount of magic can prevent conception. Again, Cantor and many of his paternal relatives.
- When magic stops working in a large region, it leads to a baby boom, including Khargan's child.
- Immature nymphs (late teens to early twentiesnote ) are sterile. Also, they are nymphomaniacs that need to give Intimate Healing to two or three different men every week. Mature nymphs are fertile, but strictly monogamous. Half-nymphs are just ordinary, if sexually hungry, women.
- A twist that isn't a general rule. Cantor was sterile as a result of accidental poisoning, at one point he tried a nymph's healing to repair his scarred vocal cords, but instead became fertile.
- In the Chronicles of the Kencyrath books, it's mentioned offhand that Highborn women can control their fertility. However, the social structure frequently puts them in social situations where they must voluntarily give up this control to fulfill a contract. Kendar women can do the same, but not with a Highborn lover, which is a common source of problems.
- In the Circle Universe an herb called droughtwort can be used to induce temporarily sterility in men.
- City of Bones by Martha Wells:
- The bio-engineered krismen are almost entirely human in appearance but are not interfertile with humans. This and their near-total immunity to disease make them a popular choice of zero-complication hookup for human women.
- Khat doesn't fully understand the social ramifications of human pregnancy, since a kris woman who doesn't want a child can simply discard a new egg sac rather than implant it in her (or her partner's) marsupial pouch.
- Jean Auel's Clan of the Cave Bear has the herbal method. Which realistically reduces the chance of pregnancy rather than eliminates it. Only one of three women who takes it doesn't get pregnant eventually and that woman only had miscarriages/stillbirths prior to the herbs.
- The governments of Earth in The Color of Distance have been enacting population control methods for a few generations. All adults, male and female, are required to have taken a contraceptive shot. It can be temporarily reversed later after they've been approved to have a child. Aliens, healing Juna Saari, innocently reverse that shot permanently. She then has the bad luck to have an affair with a man who never had the shot-his father was concerned that it could damage his fertility, and anyway as long as any women he slept with were sterile what would it matter?
- In a twist, the Deverry series, herbal preventatives aren't specifically referred to, although herbal abortifacients are a few times. The character Jill's problem with conceiving is presented as something much more basic: lots and lots of exercise,note and a questionable level of nutrition at times.
- There are some references in the novels and side materials about Nanny Ogg both serving as a midwife, and providing aid to girls who are pregnant but don't want to be. As she is shown to be a competent herbalist, it's apparent that an abortifacient is implied. Several other witches have been shown or mentioned trading in aphrodisiacs and contraceptives, allowing people to "sow their wild oats while ensuring crop failure, if you know what I mean...". Nanny's cheerful attitude towards sex mean that she is most commonly associated with this sort of business, but in her first appearance even Granny Weatherwax set up a shop dealing such potions while in Ankh-Morpork.
- There is also mention of girls having to be "good at counting" to avoid pregnancy, which could refer to timing sex to your menstrual cycle—in Real Life, a very chancy method, but in a place where belief shapes reality, perhaps not as much.
- Pennyroyal is mentioned several times. It is a genuine abortifacient, though not a particularly safe one as it can cause haemorrhaging.
- Regular contraception also exists, however; it is stated several times that without Mr. Sonky, and the rubber product named after him, Ankh-Morpork's housing shortage would be even worse.
- Terry Pratchett is actually quite proud that he could include a condom factory in Anhk-Morpork, because it grounds the city and its culture firmly in reality. You could never get away with that in Middle Earth.
- In Steven Brust's Dragaera, it is stated that essentially, some kind of magic exists by which women (or at least Drageran ones) can determine exactly when they want to be pregnant. The only illegitimate children come from marriages where one partner is sterile, and the term "bastard" is a lot more insulting for Dragaerans than for humans. This helps enforce the Fantastic Caste System, since while short-term relationships between members of different Houses are not unknown, they almost never produce offspring and are illegal, and when they do they are shunned and houseless.
- In many of Vonda N. McIntyre's novels, everyone learns to control their fertility by way of a process similar to biofeedback. In Dreamsnake (expanded later into "Of Mist and Sand and Grass") this technique is known simply as 'Control' and works by altering blood flow to the generative organs, The treatment that renders healers immune to poisons and diseases also sterilizes them; however, it's stated that if they did conceive, the baby wouldn't be viable. As a result, they don't take chances, and learn "biocontrol" anyway.
- In Dune the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood have developed their Prana-Bindu nerve control to such a degree that they can choose when to get pregnant and what gender of child to conceive. It makes their work of breeding the Kwisatz Haderach possible but doesn't make much room for love. This actually kickstarts the plot, as Jessica, who had fallen in love with Leto, chose to give him the boy he wanted instead of the girl the Bene Gesserit demanded, meaning the Kwisatz Haderach came a generation early...and out of the Bene Gesserit's control.
- There are three different types of contraception metioned in The Empirium Trilogy; once she begins a relationship with Audric, Rielle starts taking maidsright herbs, a type of medicinal plant that acts similiar to birth control pills. After Simon and Eliana have Their First Time together, Simon asks if she has a morning after potion. Eliana informs him that she took a medicine some time ago that rendered her infertile.
- Elizabeth Moon's Familias Regnant series likewise features contraceptive implants, which are standard for women in Familias space. The fact that some of the other factions don't use them is a plot point twice.
- In Randall Garrett and Vicki Heydron's Gandalara Cycle, the women of a Human Subspecies are completely aware of their own fertility.
- Victoria from The Gardella Vampire Chronicles takes an anti-contraception potion.
- Glen Cook's Garrett, P.I. novels mention a kind of amulet, worn on a woman's wrist, that prevents conception and STDs. This turns out to be notably plot-relevant in a few of the books. On one occasion, the lack of an amulet is what the viewpoint character notices, because it was very relevant to the situation he and his client were in. Also relevant to the plot, as her already being pregnant helped set a crime in motion. Later in the series, use of amulets allows Singe the ratwoman to suppress her breeding cycle, which is essential for her independence as ratpeople are very prolific if Nature is allowed to take its course.
- In the Graceling Realm world, both Katsa and Bitterblue use seabane, an herb that serves as both birth control and an abortifacient. In the prequal novel, the eponymous Fire is given birth control plants by her father, and Fire later makes the decision to take a certain type of medicine that will leave her permanently unable to have children.
- In a What Do You Mean, It's for Kids? example: the Green-Sky Trilogy makes a point of this. A common, parasitic shrub that grows in the tops of the city-trees has a contraceptive effect, and wafers made from the shrub are freely available among the Kindar. In fact, the Ol-Zhaan social elite and those between 13-25 are required to take them, ostensibly so they can concentrate on their social responsibilities (apprenticeships for ordinary Kindar, administrative tasks for Ol-Zhaan). More sinisterly, making sure the Ol-Zhaan cannot have families keeps them from passing on potentially dangerous knowledge and keeps them isolated from ordinary Kindar. The fact that contraceptive herbs do not grow underground is part of the reason for the Erdlings' food shortages, as they are simply too many and the food sources too few. As a result, sex is one of the few things the Kindar are much more open about than Erdlings.
- The Halfblood Chronicles: In Elvenbane, it's stated that human women in the elven harems have contraceptives mixed into the very food they eat, allowing the elven lords to have fun while not worrying about siring a hybrid. Shana's mother contemplates a rival must have switched her food for the food the elves ate every day for a month for her to conceive. What contraceptives are used are never touched on, and the only discussion of whether magic can affect fertility is when Lord Dyran uses his to enhance his and his wife's fertility to fulfill the marriage contract as quickly as possible.
- Heralds of Valdemar
- In the setting, there are two different herbal compounds available for female Heralds (and presumably anyone else). Moonflower is a combination contraceptive/period regulating drug that appears to be at least as reliable as the modern birth control pill. Should you slip up, though, there's at least one herbal abortifacient readily available.
- Gryphons, meanwhile, have to go through several steps before doing the deed in order to become fertilenote . As a created species, this was set up deliberately — they only get kids if they really want them. Risk-free sex at all other times is a bonus.
- In Elizabeth McCoy's Herb-Witch Duology there is widely available Dry Tea, made using the blood of maidens (the term being much stricter than a technical lack of intercourse). And, unlike many versions, there are variants for men and women. This is specifically a preventative, though there are different potions to cause abortion.
- Similarly, in Honor Harrington, women can get a 5-year contraceptive implant. It's actually mandated for any front-line female officer, but they have a right to extract the implant at any moment, but pregnant women are taken off ship duty and reassigned to safer (less radioactive) postings until they give birth or (more likely in this setting) put the fetus into a tube to be brought to term artificially. Implants are supposed to be replaced every 5 years. Honor spends some time on a prison planet and is listed dead. When she comes back, a clerical error means that her implant is not replaced on time, so she gets pregnant during her affair with Earl White Haven.
- I Am Mordred: Nyneve says as a sorceress that she controls when, and if, she'll have a baby. She regrets preventing it after losing her lover though.
- In Rene Barjavel's The Ice People (La Nuit des Temps) the people of the highly advanced ancient civilization all wear keys—actually rings with a pyramid-shaped setting. The key is used as both a debit card and an ID card, and is also an infallible contraceptive. People speak of taking off their keys when they want to have children.
- InCryptid: Alice's Power Tattoos include contraception spells, but she has no intention of having sex with anyone except Thomas, once she finds him (and is well-armed enough to make anyone who wants to try to force her think twice). Fortunately, they're also effective against parasites like Apraxis wasp larvae.
- The Inda universe takes the concept a step further. Women don't drink an herbal potion to prevent pregnancy; they won't get pregnant unless they drink it in advance. It's one of many little peculiarities of everyday life caused by the magic latent to the world. Of course, this, combined with the magically-induced nonexistence of STDs, leads to lots and lots of loving.
- In The Iron Dragon's Daughter, there's a spell of contraception. Not a 100% reliable one, though, since the goddess who powers it wants couples to have children.
- The "humans and elves can't breed" version shows up in the Known Space books by Larry Niven, where "rishathra", sex between different humanoid species, is common, and on the Ringworld serves as a diplomatic tool. STD Immunity also applies.
- Kushiel's Legacy has divinely sourced contraception. The women of Terre d'Ange will not get pregnant until they pray to Eisheth and light a candle specifically asking her to open their wombs—and as the Imriel trilogy reveals, Eisheth can tell the difference between a sincere prayer and one made while under magical compulsion, even if the woman herself cannot.
- The Liavek books have a special herb, commonly called Worrynot.
- In Magic For Liars these were used historically, with the school nurse referencing an ovary-clamping charm. Such have largely been abandoned in favor of modern condoms and hormonal birth control since they are more reliable, easier, and cheap.
- In the novel Never Let Me Go, the main characters cannot reproduce because they are clones. This is actually kind of a plot point when one of Kathy's teachers walks in on her holding and rocking a pillow as if it were a baby and listening to the song from whence the book gets its title, she thinks that Kathy is sad because she cannot have children.
- Tea made from tansy (a flowering herb) pops up in a number of works, such as The Night Angel Trilogy, although this induces abortions rather than prevents pregnancy in the first place. Although it can sound like the authors invented it, this one is actually based on real life—people used tansy in the Middle Ages and still do in some places.
- In the One Rose Trilogy by Gail Dayton, the women of Adara can have themselves protected by a contraceptive spell. It's apparently 100% effective, unless something interferes with it...like the heroine's own "Godstruck" magic. Abortion is apparently legal in Adara "before the soul takes root", but since the only character we see consider having one is talked out of it, we don't see if that would be magical as well.
- Anne McCaffrey's Planet Pirates series has contraceptive implants that last a few years before needing replacement.
- Quarters: Annice was given some contraceptive teas, but gave them away for a woman who had seven children already. Thus she got pregnant by Pjerin after this when they had sex.
- Robin Hobb's Realm of the Elderlings:
- In the Liveship Traders trilogy, wizardwood belly button piercings work as contraception.
- In the Tawny Man trilogy, Jinna can manufacture magical charms, including one which prevents pregnancy when set next to the bed. Also, the minstrel Starling feels free to sleep around because she's supposedly infertile... however, after years of marriage she finally manages to get pregnant from her husband, after which she goes respectable.
- In The Red Tent, Leah brews a tea from a type of fennel seed (possibly sylphium?) each day for a few years after multiple pregnancies started taking a toll on her. She gets pregnant again, though, after she runs out of seeds while the midwife is away on business.
- The Reluctant King: There's a reference to a "really effective" contraception spell loosening sexual mores in Novaria (pretty clearly based on Earth's birth control pill, which did this in the West).
- The Scholomance: Magical Society makes widespread use of a magic tea that works like the pill. Because it prevents menstruation entirely, it's doubly useful in the titular monster-infested Wizarding School — the scent of blood would be a hazard. Other magical contraception tends to be unreliable due to the Clap Your Hands If You Believe effect magnifying people's fear of it failing.
- Sholan women in the Sholan Alliance Series can control their own fertility naturally, at least until some of the Leska pairs are exposed to the genetically altered ni'uzu virus.
- The Silerian Trilogy: In spite of how much unprotected sex she has, Elelar never gets pregnant and thus finally concludes she's infertile. She's happy with this, because she never slept with a man whom she'd wanted to have a child by. However, it turns out she's been kept from conceiving by Dar, her people's goddess, as she's destined to bear the next Yarhdan, so having children with other men presumably was an obstacle to that. After she meets and is seduced by the man destined to father the Yarhdan, Elelar gets pregnant at once.
- A Song of Ice and Fire uses tansy tea relatively realistically: as an abortificient, not contraceptive. It is used in one character's backstory to terminate an unwanted pregnancy ("unwanted" in the sense of politically inconvenient to the mother's family; she herself very much wanted to keep the baby). It's strongly implied that there are in fact unpleasant side-effects, as after her abortion the character in question has several stillbirths and eventually one underweight, sickly child, suggesting that the herb permanently affected her ability to bear children. The trope is played straighter with "moon tea," which includes tansy as just one of its ingredients and appears to work as a relatively safe and effective Plan B contraceptive with few (if any) side effects.
- Split Heirs: Artemisia drinks a contraceptive tea after she has triplets to insure that Gudge doesn't get her pregnant again. Mungli uses it too, as she frequently has sex with Artemisia's messengers.
- Typically, the "advanced" human species in Olaf Stapledon's novels have a very high level of control over their bodies, and one consequence is that they won't conceive unless they actually want to.
- When Cherijo Grey Veil consummates her romance with Kao Torin in Stardoc she mentions having taken a contraceptive injection beforehand, which Kao later informs her was rather pointless since Jorenian males can naturally suppress their half of the process. She later miscarries her and Duncan's first child in Shockball due to her Healing Factor mistaking the foreign DNA for a threat, and has her tubes tied to keep this from happening again. Her fellow doctor also manages to save the fetus and gestate her in a Uterine Replicator.
- In the Sword of Truth series, Shota gives Richard and Kahlan a pendant that's meant to keep them from conceiving as a wedding gift, because she believes that their child will become a monster. Of course, in the next book it turns out the thing failed because of the Chimes, so Kahlan, who also believes her child will be a monster (as male Confessors all turn out to be), considers an abortifacient before deciding to keep it... and then is beaten nearly to death, losing the baby anyway. The pendant isn't mentioned much later, though the two do go back to an active sex life once she recovers.
- In Symphony of Ages, Ashe has the ability to manipulate liquids with magic, which he uses to keep his semen from entering his girlfriend's body.
- It's suggested the latter is actually a capability of all dragons.
- All 1st generation Cymrians can control their fertility (Book 2)
- In the Tortall Universe women can and do buy magic charms that they can remove if they change their minds. Alanna got one as soon as her period started. Keladry waited a bit longer, and her mother helped her find a mage who sells them. There's a mention in the Beka Cooper books of a dog having the same mark that makes the charms work carved into her collar as a sort of temporary spaying.
- Discussed in The Traitor Son Cycle when Morgon hears the women aboard his ship talk about the dangers of unprotected sex and starts figuring out how to make a magical contraception amulet.
- In the Void Trilogy by Peter F. Hamilton contraceptives are mentioned a few times; outside the void it is implied that one of the features of bionics is a built-in contraceptive and inside the void a concoction is ingested by the males to make them temporarily infertile.
- In The Vorkosigan Saga, Beta Colony has strict population control, because of a limited amount of natural resources. All girls and hermaphrodites are given a birth control implant upon reaching puberty, and only have it temporarily "switched off" when they earn a childbearing certificate (women are only allowed two children). As it also keeps a woman from having a period, nobody seems to mind. Cordelia has hers removed entirely after marrying Aral Vorkosigan (Barrayaran medical science being a couple generations or more behind Beta Colony's), and becomes pregnant almost immediately.
- In Tad Williams' The War of the Flowers, the main character Theo is pulled into the realm of The Fair Folk and eventually has an romantic encounter with a girl named Poppy. Before they have sex, she tells him that girls in that world learn a magical charm (essentially a minor spell) to prevent pregnancy once they hit puberty.
- In The Wheel of Time, it is mentioned that heartleaf tea works as a contraceptive. Nonetheless, Elayne doesn't drink it when she should have and gets pregnant.
- In The Witcher, Witchers are sterile as a result of all the deliberate mutations they undergo — which is damned convenient given how frequently Geralt ends up in bed with somebody (even sometimes using his sterility to help talk them into it). They're also immune to disease. Helps a lot.
- It is implied a big part of magicians' incomes stem from production of aphrodisiacs, birth control, and magical cosmetics.
- Speaking of magicians: they are all infertile in the setting, too, as one of the side effects of heavy magic use. Which is Played for Drama with Yennefer, who desperately wants a child but has long passed the point of no return where mages become utterly barren (and her lover is Geralt, see above). It is one of the reasons she will go to suicidal lengths for Ciri, her and Geralt's ward and surrogate daughter.
- The Women's War by Jenna Glass centers around this. Three women cast a worldwide spell that makes it so women can only conceive children if they really want to (coercion doesn't count) so that they can't be forced into an Arranged Marriage or used as baby makers against their will. The world also has contraceptive potions, but women aren't allowed to use them without the permission of a male relative. And as an unexpected side effect, rape victims gain access to deadly magic that allows them to kill their attackers.
- Farscape gives Peacekeeper women the ability to hold an embryo in stasis for up to seven cycles (years). This way they can "recreate" as much as they want (encouraged by the Powers That Be to relieve tension) and pregnancy and birth (aided by Express Delivery) can be rescheduled to more convenient times. Also, the "contraceptive shield" Velorek installed in Moya to prevent Crais from impregnating her with a gunship hybrid. Nice Job Breaking It, D'Argo.
- Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire: Aneka frequently has sex with men to get things which the Resistance needs or in rituals, with no mention of pregnancy or STDs being a risk. However, later sheepskin condoms are shown to exist, as Zezelry, Bruce and Loquasto prepare to use them before having sex with the succubi (or incubus, in Bruce's case), so we can thus presume that she's got some too (or something else).
- Legend of the Seeker: Zedd claims to have used "magical protection" while having sex with a woman in the past, so he couldn't be the father of her son. When pressed though, he admits to not having used it every time. The woman also had sex with another man around the same time. Kahlan eventually concludes he isn't the father after all.
- Star Trek mentioned contraception in a couple different episodes: on Star Trek: The Original Series Kirk offered to provide an overpopulated species with whatever contraceptive devices they needed (in 1969 this was far more controversial, and the anti-contraceptive species rejected him), while Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has "contraceptive injections" which have to be taken regularly to prevent pregnancy (Sisko neglecting to take his results in his wife becoming pregnant).
- There's a Swedish folk song called Uti vår hage där växa blå bär (really a matter of Lyrical Dissonance here) that is a really sweet high strung choral thing about meeting your beloved on the meadows. The refrain is basically reciting a bunch of flowers. It got famous during the nationalist movement in the late 1800s, when learned men would collect all kinds of stories, music and songs from the lowly peasants. Most of the songs were deemed unsuitable for the fine music salons of Stockholm, but this one was an instant hit. Little did the learned men and their ladies know, that the flowers mentioned were those used as abortifacients or contraceptives...
Out in our meadow the blueberries grow
If you want me for anything that's where I'll be.
Come roses or sage, come lovely mint, come balm.
Pretty little flowers ask you to dance
If you want I'll make a wreath for you.
I'll put it in your hair
Sun goes down, but hope rises.
- Ars Magica provides several spells for preventing or terminating pregnancies, although since every self-respecting Hermetic mage takes regular doses of a Longevity Treatment that renders them permanently sterile, they don't come up as often as they might.
- In BattleTech, in the Clans, for members of the warrior caste, sex is purely for recreation. To prevenet pregnancies, all female warriors are given implants that render them infertile. There's one known case of a female warrior getting pregnant- Cadet Peri, who deliberately sabotaged her implant in order to conceive a child with Cadet Aiden, her sybkin. This child would eventually grow up to become a mechwarrior under Aiden's command, Mechwarrior Diana.
- The Dark Eye has a contraceptive herb that is considered sacred to the goddess of beauty, love and wine, which tends to be 100% effective. Witches can also learn to strike somebody barren, while this is traditionally used as a curse, some more enterprising witches have found an alternate market for this effect.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- An article on hedge wizards in Dragon magazine #163 had a list of minor herbal and alchemical potions available from hedge wizards. One of these was 'maidenweed', a potion that leaves females infertile for a month.
- A similar herb is included in the Ravenloft supplement Gazetteer IV, where it's listed alongside various poisons used in Borca. Justified, in that Borca was created to meet the needs of a Black Widow darklord, so its native plant life naturally fulfills all her toxicological needs.
- Contraceptive herbs (such as nararoot, which is effectively maidenweed) are hidden away in the mundane equipment list in the 3.0/3.5e Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting book.
- The Book of Erotic Fantasy provides a few more possibilities, from spells to 'sheaths' and even birth screens.
- In a Living Campaign setting for Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 called Living Arcanis, priestesses of Larissa (the Divine Harlot) had spells for pregnancy, disease, sexual prowess, etc. Mind you, this was the goddess of the 67 acts of debauchery, one of which (maybe more) involved the undead.
- The Book of Vile Darkness lets the Bestow Curse spell cause indefinite sterility, an option that probably attracts a few willing victims.
- In Exalted, there is a potion called Maiden Tea that renders someone who drinks a dose infertile for a month (if female) or a week (if male). It's moderately expensive and therefore not available to most people — but most player characters in Exalted don't have any problem making the big bucks. And large doses can induce abortions, very large doses can render a character permanently sterile.
- There's also a Merit in the Player's Guide that allows one complete control of one's own fertility.
- The Mage: The Sorcerers Crusade supplement The Swashbuckler's Handbook is concerned with "enlightened" Renaissance courtiers, swashbucklers, and courtesans. Hence, one of the sample magics which it describes is "Courtesan's Draught", which reduces the risks of sexual activity.
- Pathfinder, has two if you are a humanoid. One is Night Tea and is used by biologically female humanoids. It needs to be taken daily to work. The other is Bachlor's Snuff and is for humanoid biological males, it renders them sterile for one to three days, and constant use leads to a gold tinge around the fingernails. However should a non-humanoid be the one trying to avoid getting pregnant they are rather out of luck.
- Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay:
- Werewolf: The Forsaken has a magical Rite that will render a werewolf sterile for one month. It's often used on female werewolves during risky times, as the fetus isn't protected by the shapeshifting process. The fiction section dealing with the Rite involves a pregnant werewolf forced to deal with a mage who wants to claim a werewolf fetus for magical power; she takes a humongous risk to shift and tears the mage to pieces, crying all the while.
- Although it's not really an issue in-game (with one major exception for female characters in a romance with Alistair), Grey Wardens in Dragon Age: Origins are apparently sterile (or practically sterile). The darkspawn taint apparently has an impact on the character's vigor; Morrigan in particular mentions some rather lurid tales about the Grey Wardens' fabled endurance.
- Word of God states that Grey Wardens can conceive with a normal person (though the chances of success are notably reduced) and produce completely healthy offspring, but a pair of Wardens together is all but sterile.
- The prequel novel Dragon Age: The Calling has the newly-recruited Duncan being approached by a young female mage who wants to test out the rumors of the Grey Wardens' endurance. In the same novel, a female Grey Warden conceives a child from King Maric who is named Alistair.
- Dragon Age II doesn't really address the issue, though Hawke is a normal human and only one of the love interests (Anders) is a Grey Warden. Though Sebastian has taken a vow of chastity and Isabela is implied to be infertile.
- Wynne mentions that mages seldom have babies by accident because "there are ways to prevent it". However, considering that Wynne herself had an "oops" baby once, their contraception methods aren't 100% effective. (Fans like to speculate on how, exactly, this works. Some note that there's actually a spell called "Barrier"...)
- Fable II provides the player with condoms made from animal intestine, which may sound like something they made up but is actually historical.
- Half-Life 2: The main antagonists, the Sufficiently Advanced Bastard alien empire known as the Combine, have completely prevented humans from reproducing for twenty years using an invisible "Suppression Field" emitted from their Evil Tower of Ominousness, creating a Childless Dystopia where the human race slowly dies off and the Earth is stripped of resources. The plot of the vanilla game resolves around getting rid of it (Eli actively ships Gordon Freeman with his daughter Alyx afterwards).
- In Mass Effect, it's implied that asari matings only bear fruit if the 'mother' asari wants to become pregnant as their reproduction is really closer to modified parthogenesis than anything else.
- The Witcher video game makes the same point about a Witcher being sterile as exists in the books. And as in the books, the protagonist can get plenty of use out of it.
- In Dominic Deegan, a "Protection Scroll" is put to use in a flashback where Luna loses her virginity. The asshole who took it doesn't want to use it, but she insists (and Dominic, viewing it via postcognition, cheers - and nearly punches out the person implanting his false teeth in the process).
- They're also mentioned when Gregory loses his, and when Dominic and Luna finally sleep together. Apparently they're fairly common.
- However, it seems Dominic didn't need to worry about getting anyone pregnant; he's sterile.
- They're also mentioned when Gregory loses his, and when Dominic and Luna finally sleep together. Apparently they're fairly common.
- In El Goonish Shive, Grace can't get pregnant in her non-human forms and a person given a female form by the Transformation Ray Gun is sterile for several days after transformation.
- In Errant Story, any woman who knows the contraception spell can cast it by using her finger to draw the correct symbol on her lower abdomen and waiting at least five minutes. It has to be the right symbol, though; Meji's mother found out what happens when she was drunk and drew the wrong one.
- The Order of the Stick:
- Roy was the result of a Protection spell failing.
- Durkon and Helga didn't have Protection cantrips prepared when they met in the dungeon. Several months later, the readers are reintroduced to Helga, and introduced to her son Kudzu.
- Kit N Kay Boodle has "boinkberries", which are the world's most effective contraceptive and best performance-enhancing stimulant (going by the fact that everyone in the comic has sex dozens of times a day).
- Women in The Mansion of E consume a plant called stiflebloom which prevents pregnancies for a month.
- A Modest Destiny has one character consider taking herbs to force an abortion. Yet another step on the slippery slope into Darker and Edgier that is the works of Sean Howard.
- Metamor City has fertility suppression amulets, incubi burn through them in a month.
- Tales of MU has "Rings of Protection From Pregnancy", which are single-use, and are packaged in foil packets. Unfortunately most of them use cold magic, which Mack is vulnerable to.
- This Alternate History involves silphium (see below) being an effective contraceptive and thus altering the course of history.