The Challenging History Behind Birth Control Devices

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The First Condoms

The first device that was created to prevent unplanned pregnancies was in the 1700s by Giacomo Casanova, an Italian author and adventurer. During this time, he conducted many experiments and created the earliest known form of a condom from sheep-bladder. Fast forward a hundred years later, chemist Charles Goodyear created the rubber condom in 1839. Although these condoms differed a lot from the ones that we see today, they both serve for the same purpose; to prevent unplanned pregnancies.

Creating a Pill

It wasn’t until the 1900s when birth control devices became more prevalent. In the 1930s, the Protestant’s perspective on birth control devices differed vastly from the Catholic’s. While the Protestants became more accepting of them as time went on, Catholic’s believed that these devices were unethical. This debate continued into the 1950s when birth control activist Margaret Sanger started to take a stand against the Comstock Laws. Due to her actions, she found herself in jail and struggling to proceed with her campaign. She met scientist Gregory Pincus, who had similar beliefs to hers. They both wanted to create a pill to prevent unplanned pregnancies.

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However, he told her that funding was necessary for their research to continue. Once they put their plans into action, Pincus met scientist John Rock and together, they ran tests on women who were taking the recently created pill to see the effects of it. Inside of the pill are the two hormones Progestin and Ethinyl Estradiol (modified form of estrogen). These hormones prevent pregnancy because they restrict the woman’s ability to ovulate and grow eggs in the ovaries.

Examples from My Life

Reflecting on my family life, my grandparents had three children on my dad’s side of the family and four on my mom’s side of the family during the baby boom generation. Believe it or not, all of my aunts, uncles, and parents had two children each. Nowadays, contraception impacts our generation tremendously due to many influences, such as advertisements, commercials, and social media. Plan B, an emergency contraception device, costs roughly $50 for a singular pill and is sold at many stores. I know many people who have had to purchase this pill so they would not risk becoming a parent at such an early age. In addition to this, whenever I go onto my social media accounts, I always see advertisements about these products and how they could “save your life.” This goes to show how important these pills are when dealing with the topic of birth.


Overall, the history behind birth control devices was very challenging. It took years and years of convincing and persuading others into believing that they were ethical. Margaret Sanger, one of the most dominant figures for birth control during this time, convinced the public that birth control devices are beneficiary since they can help woman live a longer and healthier life.

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