A History of Birth Control Rights

People have sought to control reproduction through countless different methods in history. Looking back on some of the methods, many seem rather bizarre: urging women to hold her breath during intercourse and immediately sneezing after ejaculation, blocking the passage of sperm by lemons or how about moistening a sponge with brandy? Thankfully, scientific and medical research has advanced and over the years, we have become more knowledgeable about effective methods of birth control.

Cartoon depictions of various different birth control methods.

A history of birth control: At the core of women’s rights

Scientific advancements on their own have, however, never been enough to ensure access to birth control. Access to contraceptives was for a long time restricted and even illegal in most countries in the world. Only in 1965 were married couples in the US legally allowed to access birth control (and unmarried individuals had to wait even longer!).

Family planning pioneers and organisations have advocated tirelessly for legal changes and greater social acceptance of individuals’ access to reproductive health information and new methods of birth control. Women’s rights movements have also emphasised that a woman’s ability to control her fertility, is a matter of human rights and one of the most important factors for women to become equal to men.

In 1995, the Fourth World Conference on Women, for example, declared that “the human rights of women include their right to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality, including sexual and reproductive health.”  A woman’s ability to control her own body was therefore acknowledged as one of the first steps to secure any other form of empowerment. Today, the United Nations has even put in place global goals to make sure that countries work together to ensure universal access to reproductive health services and education for all individuals.

The greater the birth control choice, the more diverse needs can be met

Thirty years ago, it would most likely have been unthinkable that a digital device in your hand would inform you of when, and if, you were fertile. Women have certainly been tracking their cycles to estimate their fertility for a long time, but will the arrival of a smartphone algorithm which takes into account factors such as sperm survival, variation in cycle length, subtle temperature fluctuations and the lengths of the follicular and luteal phases, change women’s options?

A determined wish to expand individuals’ choice of birth control, have spurred researchers, medical professionals and activists to pave the way for new solutions for centuries. That same wish of elevating yet another choice for individuals, was what made Natural Cycles’ founders create our birth control app. And today, Natural Cycles is CE marked and FDA cleared as a medical device for contraceptive use.

Solutions cannot be generalized when it comes to methods of birth control as we are all different. Choosing the best method of birth control can be influenced by many factors including your medical history, future plans, desires and past experiences. Safeguarding your reproductive health means that you will have to find the best method which suits your individual situation and circumstances.

An intelligent birth control app: what would your grandmother say?

Find out whether a birth control app could be something you would like to consider.  Or read Natural Cycles reviews. If you like us, or are already using Natural Cycles, or if you generally have thoughts about the future of birth control and how digital birth control works – why not follow us on Instagram or Facebook and let us know! We are curious to hear your thoughts and to start conversations about where birth control advancements will take us in the future to ensure that diverse needs can be met.

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Jen on the roof terrace at Natural Cycles headquarters.

Written By

Jennifer Gray

A writer with a passion for women’s health, Jennifer Gray has years of experience writing about various reproductive health topics including birth control, planning pregnancy, women’s anatomy, and so much more.

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