At 50, birth control pill bills top recognition

Reason to celebrate

At 50, birth control pill bills top recognition

They might be surprised to learn that U S officials announcing approval of the world’s first oral contraceptive were uncomfortable.

“... Our own ideas of morality had nothing to do with the case,” said John Harvey of the Food and Drug Administration in 1960. This Sunday, Mother’s Day, is the 50th anniversary of that provocative announcement that introduced to the world what is  widely acknowledged  as one of the most important inventions of the last century.

Debatable issue

The world has changed, but it’s debatable what part the birth control pill played. Some experts think it gets too much credit or blame for the sexual revolution. After all, sex outside of marriage wasn’t new in 1960.

The pill definitely changed sex though, giving women more control over their fertility than they ever had before and permanently putting doctors - who previously didn’t see contraceptives as part of their job - in the birth control picture.

But some things haven’t changed. In the 1960s, anthropologist Ashley Montagu thought the birth control pill was as important as the discovery of fire. Turns out it wasn’t the answer to overpopulation, war and poverty, as some of its early advocates had hoped. Nor did it universally save marriages. It didn’t eliminate all unwanted pregnancies either.
The pill is so ubiquitous that young women may have trouble knowing about other options. The pill is so highly marketed that other methods like implants and IUDs, aren’t clearly understood by them.

Female doctors use IUDs twice as frequently as the general population of women and many recommend it to their patients. “The future of birth control is not pills at all,” said Dr Lisa Perriera, 34, of Case Western Reserve School of Medicine in Cleveland. “The best birth control is easy to use, highly effective at preventing pregnancy and has few side effects,” Perriera said.

Others hold out hope for a breakthrough in male-centered birth control. An oral drug called miglustat worked in mice, but not in men. Researchers are recruiting men for studies of a hormonal gel to suppress sperm production. After all these years, a male equivalent to the birth control pill is still five to seven years away.




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