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The Fascinating Story Behind The Birth Of The Pill

October 28, 2015 by Justin Lehmiller


The birth control pill is something that a lot of us take for granted today. It has never been more widely available or easier to access (in fact, more than 10 million women in the US are currently using it). It has never been more versatile either–dozens of different formulations of the pill have been created, thereby allowing it to meet the needs of a wide range of women. Those needs include pregnancy control and prevention, menstrual cycle regulation, and (for some) acne control. Have you ever stopped to wonder where this miracle of modern medicine came from, though?

It turns out that there’s an extremely fascinating story behind it. The “birth” of the birth control pill is a tale of many great secrets, lies, and bluffs. It includes a colorful set of characters, too, including a woman with a dream (Margaret Sanger), a wealthy widow (Katherine McCormick), and a scientist who was fired from Harvard for experimenting with in-vitro fertilization in the 1930s (Gregory Pincus). To learn more, listen to the segment below from NPR’s Fresh Air in which host Terry Gross interviews journalist Jonathan Eig, author of the book The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution. Check out Eig’s book for the full story–it’s well worth a read!

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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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