The Pill Turns 50

   By drodriguez  May 09, 2010

For many of us, the birth control pill seems like it has been around forever.  But for generations before us, the idea of using a pill to control conception sounded more like magic than reality.  May 9th, 1960 was the first time oral contraception became available to women who wished for a different form of birth control. Now, some 50 years later approximately 12 million women around the world are currently using the pill and 80 percent of women will use the pill at some point during their reproductive years.

A recent article from Fox News talks about the way in which the pill has changed over the years and how it will continue to change in the future.  According to Elissa Stein, author of "Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation", the introduction of the pill marks the beginning of an on-going cultural experiment.  Stein says, "Birth control pills gave women control over their bodies in a way that was unimaginable before.  Sexual freedom exploded as the fear of pregnancy was wiped away."

One of the downsides of the pill has always been the possibility of suffering some serious side effects, which though more rare today were a lot more common in the 1960's when the hormone dosage was a lot higher than it had to be.  After the pill was introduced, 11 women died and 100 more suffered from blood clots. 

It's hard to believe that when the pill was first introduced, there was only one form of it.  Now, there are more than 40 different brands of the birth control pill and it is considered a  huge and thriving market.  And with all the different brands out there, the pill is not just used for contraception anymore.  Anything from clearing up acne, making periods lighter or nonexistent, to reducing the risk of certain cancers are some of the possible benefits of taking the pill today.

Another change we have seen over the years is the amount of advertising surrounding the birth control pill.  The first advertisement for the pill was in 1992 and since then we have been inundated with commercials and magazine ads touting the "best new brand".  Some say that the way in which the pill is advertised today has made it easier for women to talk openly about oral contraception while others would prefer to not see these types of ads.

As scientists look ahead, oral contraception for males may be the next big thing up for discussion as it is being hypothesized that we are about 5 to 7 years away from this type of pill.  Many argue that even if the male birth control pill is introduced, it will never become popular since most women will not entrust a man with this type of responsibility.

What do you think of the way the birth control pill has changed over the last 50 years?

Do you think if a male birth control pill were introduced it would ever become popular? 

Make a Comment

magpie75 by magpie75 | Fullerton, CA
May 27, 2010

The pill is known to have played a huge part no only in the sexual revolution but also in allowing women to become such a huge part of the work force. Being in control of your body gives you the confidence to be in control of the rest of you life. And that can include joining the work force and being the bread winner of your family. Will the male pill catch on? Doubtful. Since men aren't the ones that would carry the baby or have it affect their career they wouldn't worry as much about it as a woman would.

curiouss10 by curiouss10 | crystal city, TX
May 24, 2010

im 15 and very serious about sports. i want to get on biirth control but im not sure which one. any suggestions anyone??

julecoc by julecoc | Ada, OK
May 24, 2010

I like how "the pill" has changed over the years. I took a certain kind to help regulate my hormones after my first baby to atop my bleeding, and take another now prevent pregnancy. It's not just for preventing pregnancy now! And I think male versions of "the pill" will probaby be as popular as vasectemies... as in, not very LOL.

jessikaj88 by jessikaj88 | Worthington, OH
May 20, 2010

I don't trust the pill after it failed for me :) haha though I do have a sweet little angel now.

oceanairy by oceanairy | Stuart, FL
May 19, 2010

I hate the pill! I could never find one that worked as needed!! I hope that the pill does become available for the man and not just the woman!! I think it would present less of a health risk if a man took it. I would hope anyway. Then everyman would want to take it b/c they would think "oh I don't need a condom, I'm on the pill" thats what we would have to watch out for!!!

supermommy828 by supermommy828 | plainfield, IL
May 19, 2010

i am glad that the pill comes in many different forms now, such as low hormone and ones that assist in treating the symptoms of pmdd. i do wish that by now the pill was at a lower cost or even free. that way all the free healthcare (medicare) doenst have to go to families who couldnt afford birth control who now have children.

cybrown551 by cybrown551 | HOOKSETT, NH
May 18, 2010

Yes I believe it will become popular. Because I believe that men will want to have control in child birthing the same as women. However I don't believe that it will ever be as popular as the birth control pill for women.

oldbluepearl by oldbluepearl | valparaiso, IN
May 17, 2010

Who would pay for everyone to have the pill for free?

egrbavci by egrbavci | superior, WI
May 13, 2010

Why isn't the pill FREE of charge for EVERYONE by now?

waustin by waustin | Porter, TX
May 11, 2010

One of the major problems with the pill is that women then eventually go to the bathroom and the concentrated hormones leak out in their urine. The hormones eventually make their way to the water table because they cannot be filtered out in the cleaning process that controlled water goes through. The concentrated hormones have become such a major problem that the fish are actually going through major changes and feminization. We have to come up with something better than the pill.

DorianByrd by DorianByrd | Katy, TX
May 10, 2010

I'm certainly glad the pill has changed from it's original form! It opens up possibilities to a larger variety of women, like those who need or prefer an estrogen free pill. We have certainly come a long way in all forms of contraception. I personally think the IUD is the best invention ever! I don't think the male version of the pill will ever be as popular as the female version, at least not in the short term. Contraception has long been and continues to be considered the woman's responsibility. Until this notion changes, more women than men will be taking the pill. I do think that younger men may be inclined to take it (perhaps pro athletes should consider it, too!) to prevent the consequences of promiscuous behavior. Men in long term relationships will likely defer to more traditional forms of contraception. JMHO.

jenndta69 by jenndta69 | SHERMAN OAKS, CA
May 10, 2010

Happy Birthday pill? I hope they are better today, than when I was taking them 7 years ago. And please, do not let a man ever be in control of taking a birth control pill. Most men can't remember to take out the trash, let alone take a pill, unless it's for pain. LOL