How Feminist Freedom Fighters Changed the Face of Sexual Health

Jan 232018

blog_history_birth_controlFor a pill the size of a pinhead, hormonal birth control has moved some serious mountains. A historical pillar of women’s sexual freedom and health rights, “the pill” helped shape the face of modern medicine, gender roles, and attitudes toward sex. As easy, affordable access to birth control comes under fire in political circles, we’re constantly reminded of the struggles faced by the women and men who fought for our collective reproductive rights. The invention of the birth control pill was an unparalleled gathering of the best, brightest, and most open-minded rights advocates coming together in the name of equality. The pill wasn’t just a triumph for women – it was a triumph for humanity.

Not So Humble Beginnings

Since its controversial release in the early 1960’s, the pill has remained one of the most popular forms of birth control. By 1962, 1.2 million women were already taking the first oral contraceptive, and that figure doubled in a mere 3 years to 6.5 million by 1965. Although the original formula was eventually pulled and sent through several formula changes by the 1980s, one thing was clear: the people wanted pleasure – without a pregnancy scare – and they weren’t afraid to ask for it.

The research and development of the pill in the 1950’s was the result of several great minds thinking alike, though the oral birth control movement was spearheaded by one of history’s most fierce feminists. Margaret Sanger, a pioneer in the women’s health movement and founder of one of the first reproductive health clinics, underwrote the research that brought the pill from the laboratory into the hands of women.

Born in 1879, Sanger grew up in a generation that placed little to no value on the contributions of women beyond giving birth and keeping house, which fueled her passion to fight for equal rights. While working as a nurse, Sanger yearned to help the myriad women she assisted in birth, most of whom were crying out to cease their seemingly endless string of pregnancies, which left them impoverished and in poor health.

Before birth control information was even legal to distribute, Sanger published pamphlets and opened clinics that taught women about condoms and female anatomy – acts that eventually led to several arrests. Like most freedom fighters, Sanger wasn’t deterred by her jail time, and fought even harder as she reached her senior years. Sanger was in her 70s when the birth control pill was about to make its’ debut.

Sanger secured the majority of the funding that pushed the pill through the development process with the help of Katherine McCormick, the second woman in history to graduate from MIT University and an outspoken women’s rights activist, who pledged $2 million of her inheritance to the cause. The two women met with research scientist Gregory Pincus, a trailblazer in the field of reproductive biology, and inspired Pincus to forge ahead with his ground-breaking progesterone research, which ultimately ended in Pincus developing Enovid, the first birth control pill and most controversial medicine of the decade. Pincus chose gynecologist John Rock, a medical practitioner and fertility expert, as his right hand man in Enovid’s trial period, and the puzzle pieces were in place to forever change the way the world looks at sex and reproduction.

The Struggle Was Real

When the pill was finally approved for medical distribution in 1957, it was only available as a remedy for menstrual disorders. However, women quickly picked up on the science behind synthetic hormones – this pill prevented ovulation, and thus pregnancy. Just in time for the Summer of Love, the pill was finally approved for use as a contraceptive in 1960, but the United States government wasn’t ready for free love just yet. Some states still outlawed the sale of the pill, threatening fines and imprisonment for doctors working in public practices. Estelle Griswold, executive director of Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut, took on her state’s particularly stringent laws by opening her own branch of the famous clinic.

After her arrest and conviction for distributing such “immoral” information, her case won in the famous Griswold v. Connecticut decision of 1965.The Supreme Court deemed the pill and information on birth control fully legal across all 50 states for married couples, and affirmed “marital privacy” as a Constitutional right. Even with such an immeasurably large stride forward, it was still almost a decade before oral contraceptives were finally available to all women regardless of marital status in 1972.

After several changes in chemical composition throughout the 1980s to prevent side effects like nausea and break-through bleeding, the pill finally earned its’ place as a staple of women’s health care. In 2000, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed oral birth control under the list of medicines covered by employer-sanctioned health benefits.

Modern Medicine

Access to family planning still empowers modern women to take complete control of their lives. Since the invention of the pill, more women are entering and graduating college, earning higher wages and working to close the male-to-female wage gap, and becoming the primary breadwinners in over 40% of homes with children. Fewer teens are getting pregnant, and fewer children are forced to live in poverty. Thanks to community clinics like Planned Parenthood, women and men across the country can obtain the pill and other contraceptives at little to no cost. At some point in their lives, 99% of women have used birth control. In a political climate that threatens to destroy decades of progress for human rights, women are standing strong and fighting for our right to pleasure.


Please note that advice offered by Intimina may not be relevant to your individual case. For specific concerns regarding your health, always consult your physician or other licensed medical practitioners.


About the author:
Colleen Godin is a seasoned pleasure product professional and avid outdoors-woman (though rarely both at the same time). She has worked in the business of pleasure products since college. From the adult boutique counter to traveling the country for major toy manufacturers, she’s seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of sex toy design. All those years of hawking cheap vibrators have turned her attention to the luxury toy market, where she specializes in trends, tech, and good ethics.



Myths About Hymens We’re Ready to Forget Once & For All

Today, we don’t even want to touch the whole concept of virginity (seriously, it’s pretty easy to poke holes into, pun semi-intended) but we do want to address some of the major misconceptions surrounding hymens – what they are, what they do, and why society’s obsession with them is wack. So What is a Hymen? [...]

Read more »


Stay Hydrated, Stay Healthy: Tips for Upping Your Daily Dose of H2O

Considering that planet Earth’s surface is composed of around 71% water, and the adult human body is made of more than half H2O – 60% to be exact – you’d think it would be a little easier to stay hydrated. In a fast-paced culture of sports drinks, soda, and coffee, water doesn’t exactly have the [...]

Read more »


Cheers to Your Health: New Year’s Resolutions for 2018

There’s nothing that makes you feel like you ought to set some New Year’s resolutions quite like the week between December 25th and 31st – it’s a weird limbo period where no one knows exactly what time it is, but we’re more than happy to eat more turkey leftovers and Christmas chocolate. Many people focus [...]

Read more »

Your Guide to PCOS: What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

If you’ve ever experienced intense cramping, unusually heavy menstrual bleeding or cramps that have been so intense they’ve left you unable to to attend work or school, PCOS – or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome may be the culprit. It affects 8-20% of menstruators worldwide and is unfortunately one of the leading causes of infertility if left [...]

Read more »


UTIs – What They Really Are & How to Avoid Them

If you have a vulva and have heterosexual penetrative sex, chances are you’ve experienced the dreaded UTI, or Urinary Tract Infection. While that sexual activity is not the only way to get a UTI, it is one of the most common, and in fact, UTIs are an extremely common ailment that will affect most women [...]

Read more »


Cervix 101: A Complete Guide to Your Lady Donut

The cervix – unseen, mysterious, and absolutely awesome. We’re here to help you get to know the guardian of the uterus. What does a cervix do? The cervix is a small passageway connecting your uterus and vagina, and it does a whole heck of a lot for you. It produces its own lubrication to help [...]

Read more »


Oh Baby! – Figuring Out Your Fertile Window

Figuring out the female fertility cycle is no walk in the park. Every woman is different, which means figuring out the fertility window, or optimal time to try and conceive a child, takes some patience. What exactly is the fertile window anyways? We’ve broken in down in simple terms, so you’ll know exactly what to [...]

Read more »


72 New Breast Cancer Gene Mutations Discovered

While previous studies have pointed to BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes as the two main indicators of one’s likelihood of developing breast cancer, a recent study has shown there may be more genetic factors at play than thought. How Do Genes Play a Role in Breast Cancer? Breast cancer will affect roughly 12% of the American [...]

Read more »


6 Unexpected Signs of Infertility

Infertility is one of those things that most don’t think about until they’re actively trying to conceive; most of our sexual health concerns are focused on trying not to get pregnant that we may never even think about whether we can  get pregnant or not. However, there are 6 early signs that you may be [...]

Read more »


Why We Love Feminine Moisturizer (And You Will Too)

Intimate lubrication is an important aspect of enjoyable, pain-free sex. If you don’t already know, let us be the first to tell you – a fantastic feminine moisturizer should be in that top drawer of your bedside table. Commonly known as lube, this slippery stuff lends itself to more than just great sex. So what [...]

Read more »

  • Sign Up. It's Rewarding!
  • Join our newsletter list today.
  • Enjoy 10% off your first order.
  • *Email address
  • *Birthday
  • *Required field
     For first-time subscribers only. Terms & Conditions
INTIMINA uses cookies to improve our service to the customer. By continuing to browse our site, you agree to our use of cookies detailed here.   ACCEPT