The Effort to Create Birth Control Options

Today many women use one of the several available birth control options. Few have realized how much effort contributed to the creation of those options. Below you will find the story of how women were provided with the first of the birth control brands, the first of the many products on sale today. This article may appear to be very useful for those who are interested.

In the early 1950s, the American public became increasingly aware of the ability of the pharmaceutical industry to develop a variety of different drugs.  In this atmosphere of drug awareness two women, Margaret Sanger and Katherine McCormick chose to pursue the feasibility of providing women with access to birth control options.  These two women realized almost immediately that in order to achieve the manufacture and marketing of such a birth control options, they would need to embark on two parallel routes:

1) One route headed towards Capital Hill and the legalization of any birth control options.
2) A second route ran in the direction of one or more scientists willing and able to create what could become the first of the birth control brands. 

By 1953 Margaret Sanger found herself sitting before Senator Hatfield, arguing for the legal right to put a birth control options on the market.  As Margaret sat in that hearing room, Gregor Pincus, a researcher at the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology, attained public recognition for his earlier research.

Dr. Pincus had succeeded in fertilizing rabbit eggs, and he had performed that fertilization within a test tube.  He had even managed to keep the resulting embryos alive for a short time.  Sanger and McCormick felt that Pincus was the right scientist to recruit for the job of making one or more birth control options.  McCormick, the daughter-in-law of Cyrus McCormick, planned to finance such an undertaking. 

Pincus agreed to tackle this challenge.  He soon learned, however, that even a wealth of funding could not erase the obstacles along the road to development of a satisfactory birth control options.  For example, Pincus knew that progesterone could prevent ovulation, and he felt it had the potential to become an excellent contraceptive.  But to test his theory, the researcher needed a low-cost source of progesterone.

Meanwhile Pincus launched an investigation using on rabbits the progesterone that he had available.   Then in 1952, while the researcher was testing his limited supply of progesterone, he and a fellow gynecologist crossed paths at a conference. John Rock recounted to his friend and fellow-scientist how he had been using progesterone to help guarantee success to previously infertile women who longed to conceive a child. This sharing of information eventually led to the marketing of the first of the birth control options.

Rock had theorized that the use of progesterone for a short-term halt to ovulation could cause a woman's reproductive system to then "fire-up," leading to fertilization.  Rock's findings spurred Pincus to renew his search for a low-cost source of progesterone.  By then scientists at a company called Syntex had managed to make norethindrone, a progesterone-like compound that could be taken orally. Syntex demonstrated the public willingness to buy birth control brands.

Clinical trials of this progesterone "look-alike" took place in Puerto Rica.  The results of those trials paved the way in 1960 for FDA approval of the pill, the first of the birth control options designed to be used by women.

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