Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fun Facts for “The Pill’s” Golden Anniversary

by Melissa Garvey, ACNM Writer and Editor

On Mother’s Day, May 9, “the pill” (a.k.a. oral contraceptives) turned 50. Leading up to the big day, numerous journalists outlined the history and evolution of the pill. Articles popped up in Time, The Wall Street Journal, and US News and World Report. However, one critical piece of information was missing from the slew of otherwise well-researched stories—obtaining a prescription for the pill does not require a visit to a physician. Many other qualified health care professionals, including certified nurse-midwives and certified midwives, can counsel women as well as prescribe and administer the form of birth control that is best for her body and her needs. Here are five more facts you may also appreciate about the pill:
  1. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved the pill (Enovid) in 1957 for menstrual disorders. (It was approved for contraceptive use in 1960.)

  2. The pill was not available to married women in all states until 1965. Unmarried women gained access to the pill in all states in 1972.

  3. The pill was the first medication mandated to include patient package inserts, explaining its possible side effects and risks to help facilitate informed consent. (Source: Susan Wood, director of the Jacob’s Institute of Women’s Health, as seen in the following video.)

  4. Today's standard dose oral contraceptives contain an estrogen dose that is one third lower than the first marketed oral contraceptive.

  5. More than 100 million women worldwide and almost 12 million women in the United States use the pill.

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