Birth control pills and the childless woman

Did you know that birth control pills were not legally available to unmarried women in all U.S. states until 1972? The Pill was only approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1960 and was not prescribed even to married women in every state until 1965.

Think about what a difference The Pill made in people’s lives. You could have sex without worrying about getting pregnant. You didn’t have to deal with condoms or the various other iffy devices available then. All you had to do was take a pill. You didn’t ever have to get pregnant if you didn’t want to. Suddenly women had a real choice about whether or not to have children or when to have them. It gave them a freedom they had never had before. Since then, the number of women who don’t have children has more than doubled, not a coincidence.

As those of us who are childless by marriage know all too well, The Pill also made it more likely that we would not have children with partners who didn’t want them.

In 1972, the man who became my first husband hurried me to the San Jose State student health center for a prescription. He wanted sex but not babies. In those days, the hormone dosages were huge. I suffered every possible side effect–bleeding, bumps, nausea, weight gain, and more–before trading my pills for a diaphragm. When I married Fred, I didn’t need birth control because he had had a vasectomy. I remained childless.

Today’s birth control pills have fewer side effects and in fact are often prescribed to help with bad periods and other problems in the reproductive department. Of course, we worry a lot more about sexually transmitted diseases and need to take precautions. But pregnancy? The Pill took care of that.

You can read a detailed history of The Pill here.

How about you? What is your experience with birth control?