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A Brief History on the Birth Control Pill

How the Pill Works to Prevent Pregnancy and Women's Health Diseases


Updated October 16, 2009

Oral contraceptives, commonly known of as the Pill, were approved by the FDA on June 23, 1960. The first birth control was called Enovid and was manufactured by Searle. The 1960's woman, as well as women today, liked the pill because it provided a reversible method of birth control that was, and still is today, almost 100 percent effective when taken as directed.

The approval of the birth control played a major role in the sexual liberation of women that took place during the 1960's. For the first time women were free to enjoy spontaneous sex without fear of pregnancy. Today it's estimated that about 16 million women use the Pill.

The Pill works by suppressing ovulation so that no egg is released by the ovaries for fertilization by sperm. Ovulation is suppressed through the actions of the hormones (estrogen alone or a combination of estrogen and progestin) that the birth control pill contains.

The birth control pill doesn't just prevent unplanned pregnancy, it also offers a number other benefits to the women who use it. In fact, women who take the Pill for at least one year are 40 percent less likely to develop uterine and ovarian cancers. Other important benefits of the birth control pill include regulating irregular periods, controlling acne, reducing menstrual cramps, and relieving the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome -- PMS.

The hormones contained in oral contraceptives also provide a protective effect against pelvic inflammatory disease, a major cause of infertility. This protection is caused by the increased thickness of the cervical mucous that occurs when oral contraceptives are used. The thickened cervical mucous helps to keep bacterium from entering the vagina and possibly the uterus and fallopian tubes where pelvic inflammatory disease can occur.

Planned Parenthood, Is the Pill Good for You?, 01/21/05, accessed 07/17/06

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  6. More Than a Birth Control Pill - A Brief History onThe Pill - How the Pill Works and a Look at the Health Benefits of Oral Contraceptives

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