A Brief History of Birth Control

Today the words "Birth Control" and "Contraceptive" carry much political baggage as the nation continues to argue over whether or not insurance should be forced to cover birth control. Over 100 years ago, birth control was a relatively new term that had nothing to do with someone's ability to pay for prescription contraceptives. It was thought to be immoral, unhealthy, unwomanly and illegal. Birth control was a highly private matter for women and their partners in the mid-1800s. Today, it's advertised and talked about everywhere. The first birth control pill was not developed until 1963. So what did women use to prevent pregnancy before then?

Before the 20th century, condoms were made from materials such as fish bladders and animal intestines. During this time period, the first spermicides were introduced. Condoms were made from linen cloth sheath and soaked in a chemical solution before use.

In the 1800s, condoms and diaphragms (cervical caps) were being manufactured from vulcanized rubber. Later this century, the U.S. prohibited the advertisement, education and distribution of birth control.

Early in the 1900s, Margaret Sanger opened the first birth control clinic in the U.S. and called it the American Birth control League. This is now known as Planned Parenthood. She was soon shut down by police and arrested for distributing obscene materials. After about 30 years of Margaret's perseverance through arrests and prosecutions, a judge lifted the federal ban on birth control. Diaphragms, or womb veils, become a very popular method of contraception.

In the time period of 1950 to 1965, Margaret Sanger raised enough money to research and develop a human birth control pill. The first oral contraceptive was approved by the FDA in 1960. Five years later, married couples were granted the right to use birth control.

It wasn't until 1972 that birth control was legalized for all U.S. citizens regardless of marital status. Several years later, birth control pills with low doses of hormones were introduced to the market alongside a new copper IUD.

During the 90s, there was a considerable "boom" of options for birth control from implants, to shots, to female condoms to emergency contraceptives. Fast forward ten years later, you now have even more expansion and improvement in the market. Within 10 years, your options increase to a new IUD, hormonal patch, vaginal ring, sterilization and new implants and female condoms.

Today, there are a few more options for emergency contraception. One form, Plan B One-Step, is available on the shelves of most pharmacies. The goal now is to develop methods that will help protect women against STIs and birth control for men.