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40 Years of Oral Contraception in Germany

The release of the "pill" forty years ago marked a social breakthrough. Today, family planning is taken for granted, not so in the early 1960s.


Today, many Germans take family planning for granted, but this was not the case in the early 1960s.

When the contraceptive pill first arrived on the market in Germany on June 1, 1961, it was met with little social or moral acceptance. Doctors either refused to prescribe it, or when they did, it was treated as a remedy against menstrual pain.

The church and conservative politicians fought hard to prevent the pill from gaining wide acceptance, claiming that it undermined traditional family structures. It was not until the 1968 liberation movements that the pill became an acceptable contraceptive method and revolutionized the way society thought about sex and reproduction.

Women were suddenly free to explore their own sexuality without the fear of unwanted pregnancies. They could decide when and if they wanted children and plan their lives around family and a career.

Since its developement, the pill has become an integral part of everyday life for millions of women. Despite other forms of contraception, the pill remains the most wide-spread means of birth control.

Over fifty percent of German women say they prefer it to any other contraceptive method. Although discussions arise concerning possible side-effects, doctors and researchers say the pill is the best and safest way to prevent pregnancy, until perhaps oral contraceptives for men are developed.

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