Various tied and sewn fibers, queen size bed frame, lamp shades, window film, reflective tape, acrylic beads, food covers, glitter, paint, wood, & metal 2015 In ancient China, mercury was praised for its perceived medicinal properties, as it was thought to prolong life and maintain good health. In order to prevent an unwanted pregnancy, concubines were advised to drink hot mercury on an empty stomach. The extremely toxic nature of this element made this method an effective but dangerous form of contraception. When the metal particles fused with the placenta, it would cause any pregnancy to miscarry. The prolonged consumption of mercury lead to sterility in women, and was also known to cause kidney and lung failure, as well as brain damage and death.