Family planning is not a new concept. The practice of birth control has been around a long, long time and in the early days, people made due with what they had. According to some researchers, in 3000 B.C., types of condoms were made from fish bladders or animal intestines.
The history of birth control began when humans discovered the connection between sex and pregnancy. The oldest forms of birth control include coitus interruptus. That’s when a man pulls out prior to ejaculation.
Pessaries, or vaginal suppositories, were other early birth control devices. The earliest record of birth control use is ancient Egyptian instructions on creating a pessary. It was made of various acidic substances and then lubricated with honey or oil.
The first spermicides were introduced around 1500 B.C. Condoms made from linen cloth sheaths were soaked in chemical solutions and dried before using.
Barrier methods have been popular throughout the centuries. Asian women may have used oiled paper as a cervical cap while Europeans are said to have used beeswax. It’s reported that in the 18th century, Casanova used assurance caps to keep from impregnating his mistresses. By the 1830s, vulcanized rubber was the material of choice for both condoms and diaphragms.
The first modern intrauterine device was marketed in a German publication back in 1909. The Grafenberg Ring, the first IUD to be used by a significant number of women, was introduced in 1928.
The rhythm method, a natural form of birth control, gained popularity in the early 20th century. That was when researchers discovered women only ovulate once per menstrual cycle. Couples would avoid intercourse on days identified as fertile ones. It wasn’t until the 1950s, when scientists better understood the menstrual cycle and the hormones controlling it, that methods of hormonal contraception were developed.
Thanks to the famous birth control advocate, Margaret Sanger and her efforts, the first oral contraceptive, Enovid (invented by Frank Colton), was approved by the FDA in 1960.
In the 1980s and 1990s, hormonal birth control methods expanded to implants, injectables and low-dosage pills.