Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: November 27, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412953948 | Print ISBN: 9781412928168 | Online ISBN: 9781412953948| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Oral contraceptives, commonly referred to as ‘the pill,’ provide a hormonal method for women to prevent pregnancy. The two basic types are combination pills, which contain both estrogen and progestin (a synthetic version of progesterone), and progestinonly pills. Since their introduction in 1960, oral contraceptives have become the most popular form of reversible birth control in the United States. More than 100 million women use this method worldwide, although its use varies substantially by country. In 1951, activist Margaret Sanger began to work with Dr. Gregory Pincus to develop a birth control pill. In less than a year, Pincus was able to demonstrate that progesterone inhibits ovulation in rabbits and rats, but he lacked the funding necessary to continue his research. Simultaneously, an orally effective form of synthetic progesterone was created by Carl Djerassi, a chemist working in Mexico City, and Frank Colton, the chief chemist at the pharmaceutical company ...