Thursday, January 30, 2014

The History of Birth Control and its impact on American Culture By: Jordan Devan

The History of Birth Control and its impact on American Culture

By: Jordan Devan

Have you ever really wondered where birth control came from and why it started? Birth control goes all the way back to 1550 B.C. when an Egyptian manuscript called the Ebers Papyrus to direct women on how to mix dates. Basically they mixed acacia and honey into a paste, smeared it all over wool and used it as a pessary to prevent conception.  Later on in the 1700s, Casanova experimented with birth control and makes sheep-bladder condoms to the use of half a lemon as a makeshift cervical cup. Throughout the 1800’s rubber condoms were invented as well as a large cervical cap was developed.  Also, congressed passed an antiobscenity law that deems birth control information obscene and outlaws its dissemination.  Birth control continued to grow throughout the 1900s including important changes such as the creation of a progesterone pill which grows into the first human pill trial on 50 women in Massachusetts.[1] In 1960, the FDA approved the birth control pill, Enovid, which was actually taken by many women by that time for “therapeutic purposes”.  In the late 1900s, the pill begins to be used widely across America while concerns come up about the pills safety and side effects.  A new study was developed in 2010 stating that the pill is used by 100 million women around the world.  I briefly explained the history above noting that birth control has made it all the way to court and made it out.  As you can see, the pill has come a long way over time knowing that there are multiple forms of birth control out there today.

Birth control has not only had an impact on American culture but also changed many women’s lives. According to USA Today, "it has become a symbol of women’s rights and generational change – and, for a time, the focus of a debate over whether it led to declining morals." [2] Today, people who use the pill can’t remember when it wasn’t available.  People question whether the pill promotes promiscuity because of the high convenience of the pill to women and in some cases it definitely does.  A girl who once wasn’t so promiscuous that wasn’t on the pill and had no security now is since she has the pill.  There are also many benefits to the pill.  Teenage girls with difficult periods can use this pill to minimize pain and also thin the bleeding.  Married couples or couples not wanting to conceive can rely on the pill while staying sexually active.  One might ask, why not just use condoms? Well, along with risk in both, condoms may break, slide off, or a partner may have allergic reasons why they can’t use one.  That’s where the pill comes in and is effective and safe with fewer risks.

                I believe that the pill is beneficial to women but I also know that women rely on it too much sometimes.  Anything that is used too much can be dangerous and I know that birth control definitely has its risks but I think women continue to take those risks having the mindset that it won’t harm them.  The pill along with other forms of birth control has impacted the American culture by allowing them to control when they conceive and also has a flip side effect.  It’s much easier to say yes to sex when on birth control knowing you are safe and won’t get pregnant.  That’s when I think it is taken too far.  The American culture has started to use it for the wrong reason or in other words, taken advantage of this recourse. 



[1] "A Brief History of Birth Control." Time. Time Inc., 3 May 2010. Web. 28 Jan. 2014. <
[2] The pill: 50 years of birth control changed women's lives -" The pill: 50 years of birth control changed women's lives - N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Jan. 2014. <>.


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