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The Pill Was Prescribed For Cramps Before 1960

Three Unlikely Preachers of the Pill

The pill has celebrated its 50th birthday all year, but 1960 was not the year it entered the US market; it was the year the FDA approved it as a form of birth control.

It had been around throughout the '50s and prescribed to a suspiciously large number of women for "severe menstrual disorders." Yet nobody, not even The New York Times, publicly acknowledged its birth-controlling powers until 1957.

That was when three clergy men — a priest, a rabbi, and a minister — accidentally got it some press while arguing against its dangerous, off-label use of preventing pregnancy. Even then, when The New York Times reported it, it did not mention the brand name, Enovid, so it was not like women could run out and ask their doctors for it.

It wasn't until May 10, 1960, when the FDA approved Enovid as a contraceptive, that the Times finally called it what it was: the "first birth control pill."

Source: Thinkstock
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