Oral contraceptives known as birth control pills have revolutionized women’s health over the last 50 years. Birth control pills are budget-friendly, safe, and effective. The benefits stretch beyond family planning and into treating some of the most common women’s health issues, such as endometriosis and PCOS. The road that leads to the development of these tiny little wonder pills is rugged and paved with early ingenuity, Mexican yams, and sexual liberation.

Early Methods

There has always been a need for a solution to prevent unplanned pregnancies. Ancient Egyptian women were known to use suppositories fashioned out of cotton, dates, honey, and fermented acacia. Even the Bible and Koran refer to the practice of withdrawing the penis before ejaculation (called coitus interruptus).

Other early methods include condoms made from fish bladders, linen sheaths, and animal intestines. Around 1500 A.D., the first spermicides were introduced, and in 1838 vulcanized rubber was used to make condoms and diaphragms.

The Price of Sexual Liberation

The Comstock Act was passed in 1873, making it illegal to advertise, distribute, and provide information about birth control. It also gave the postal service the green light to seize any birth control sold through the mail. Despite this, Margaret Sanger opened the first birth control clinic in the U.S. She spent 30 days in jail, and once released, she re-opened her doors. She faced continued persecution until the Comstock era ended in 1938.

Mexican Yams and the Emergence of Birth Control Pills

Margaret Sanger persuaded Gregory Pincus at a dinner party to work on a birth control pill in 1951. In that same year, a chemist in Mexico City, Carl Djerassi, synthesizes hormones from Mexican yams and chemically invents the first birth control pill. In 1952, progesterone was developed, leading to the first birth control pill clinical trial in 1954.

The FDA approved the first birth control pill Enovid in 1957, but only for severe menstrual disorders and not as a contraceptive. Even though the FDA finally approved it for contraceptive use in 1960, it remained controversial and illegal in eight states. By 1988, newer, safer versions of the pill had been developed, and the original high hormone dose was finally retired. The same year, the FDA released the results of a study that substantiated the health benefits of the pill. It showed the pill decreased the risk of ovarian cancer, iron deficiency anemia, and pelvic inflammatory disease.

Why Birth Control Pill Research Studies are Important

Today, women are free to enjoy spontaneous sex without the fear of pregnancy, but challenges persist. There are hundreds of combinations of hormones, yet some women still struggle to find a fit.

Birth control studies are vital to future generations of women who want protection and to keep up with the vast diversity of the women who use them. To view and learn more about our currently enrolling birth control pill studies, call (858) 505-8672, or visit our website here.

References:

https://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/health/a-brief-history-of-the-birth-control-pill/480/

https://www.verywellhealth.com/a-brief-history-on-the-birth-control-pill-3522634

https://www.ourbodiesourselves.org/book-excerpts/health-article/a-brief-history-of-birth-control/