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50 Ways "The Pill" Revolutionized the Lives of Women

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the birth control pill

On May 9, 2010, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the approval of the birth control pill. Over the past five decades, the Pill's impact has transformed the lives of women around the country. Here are some of the ways you have told us the Pill has revolutionized your lives:

  1. In high school, I had very painful & irregular periods. The pill certainly changed that.
  2. Just knowing the pill was available was so powerful! I actually had my tubes tied so I didn't need it, but I was very glad my daughters had an option!
  3. I started taking birth control after an ovarian cyst the size of a lemon sent me to the hospital. Thanks to the pill, I no longer develop these painful and reproductive-health threatening cysts.
  4. I used the pill in my late teens and early 20's to avoid pregnancy which I wasn't ready for at that time.
  5. The pill has allowed me to feel free and safe as a wife and a mother. I didn't have to go abroad for repeated abortions, like many of my older relatives. I have spaced my children's births, enjoyed my marriage without fear, and been able to work.
  6. I was on the pill for 10 years, from the time I was 18 until 28. It worked great for me, and let me take charge of my reproductive health. When I got off the pill to try for a baby, I got pregnant within two months! Behold the power of the pill!
  7. The pill arrived too late for me to use it. However I saw what it meant to women who for many reasons could not bear a child and who had previously gone to unsanitary places for illegal abortions that often went wrong, and were left to die in ditches alone.
  8. Without access to birth control, my ability to flourish in my educational and professional career would be severely limited. Thanks to the pill I have control over my reproductive health and can have children on my terms.
  9. When I was 16, my mom took me to the doctor to get the pill. It was one of the best things she ever did for me. I was the first in our family to graduate from college. Now, I'm married and pregnant and plan to do the same for our daughter when she's ready.
  10. My painful acne has cleared up, my PMDD is gone, and my periods are shorter. God Bless the Pill!
  11. Taking the pill lets me decide when I want to start a family. I am 30, married and happy without children, thanks to the pill.
  12. I got married in 1961 and was fortunate the pill had just become available. I graduated from college a year later & planned 3 of 4 children.
  13. The Pill ensures that my Aunt Flo always shows up when she's supposed to and never sneaks up on me unexpectedly!
  14. I was on the pill for years, it allowed me to decide when to have kids. I was not being forced to bear them, but had them by choice.
  15. I got pregnant at 18. I got pregnant again at 19 and had an abortion. The pill made it possible for me to finish college, pursue a career I enjoyed, and to have sex without fear of getting pregnant again.
  16. Thanks to BC I was able to have one planned child, able to leave my batterer and not be kept barefoot and pregnant. I defeated rampant job gender discrimination stating I would NOT be pregnant in five years. It saved my life.
  17. My husband and I both dreamed of serving in the Peace Corps, which is something you cannot do with small children. The pill gave us the opportunity to fulfill this lifelong goal and plan our family accordingly.
  18. I lost my virginity when I was a 19-year-old sophomore at UC Berkeley. I became pregnant with an ectopic pregnancy, but survived thanks to the University's hospital. Afterwards, I got on the pill and had no more ectopic pregnancies.
  19. I was the single mom of an infant trying to get started as a secretary after being on public assistance. I had tried other forms of birth control with many problems, and I would not have been able to get by if I'd had more children. Luckily, the pill worked for me.
  20. The pill allowed me to finish college.
  21. I was married in June of 1964 and immediately started putting my husband through college for the next 3 1/2 years so he could get his degree. The pill probably saved me from getting pregnant because my periods were very irregular. THANK YOU to the PILL!!
  22. The birth control pill gave me control over one small portion of my life. My husband at the time was Catholic. We never discussed it either...my body, my choice.
  23. When I was 17 I went for my very first annual exam while I was on my period. It was so heavy I had to go back, and the doctor suggested I get on BC even though I wasn't yet sexually active. Since then my periods are lighter and I have more energy.
  24. My husband and I are able to choose to remain childless because of the pill!  And we love it!
  25. I use Yaz and have no complaints! It hasn't failed and it works like a charm on my PMDD and cystic acne.
  26. I use the pill to control my menstrual cycle because I have fibroids which cause blood clots, severe bleeding & anemia. Because of the pill I have fewer clots, my iron level is back up & my cycles are 3-5 days again.
  27. The pill was awesome with perimenopausal symptoms, plus I never had an unwanted pregnancy in my younger years
  28. The pill treated my horrific cramps and wildly irregular menstrual cycle. I also have partial complex seizures that are affected by my cycle and the medicine I take for them is estrogen-sensitive, so the pill has also helped keep my estrogens at a stable level. For me, a happy side-effect is no unwanted pregnancies!
  29. When I was 12, I began suffering from severe menstrual cramps that would keep me bed-ridden for about 2 days every month. I would finish a bottle of painkillers and sometimes my mother would call EMS because I was in so much pain. Not until I was 25 did my doctor recommend the pill! I wish I had known earlier because now I no longer need to call out from work or miss out on other things. The pill has alleviated all my pain and now I'm able to live a 'normal' life.
  30. Thanks to the pill, I only have two children - both are loved and both have been proud of what I've accomplished in my work life as an advocate.
  31. For me, the pill means employment security. I used to be knocked out by cramps for 30+ days each year! My thanks to the doctor who told me that working women just couldn't be successful if they were stuck in bed with cramps.
  32. I had really painful menstrual cycles and was later diagnosed with Endometriosis and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. I was in so much pain that was in and out of the hospital, my blood pressure and heart rate would spike, and I didn't feel like my doctor cared. I finally found the right doctor and was put on Lupron injections for three months and then got back on the pill. Now I'm pain free which means a lot to me.
  33. The pill saved my life. I was a lost, promiscuous teenager 35 years ago. My courageous mother put me on the pill when I was 15. She couldn't stop me from having sex, but because of the pill, and my mother, I did not get pregnant as a teen. Thanks to my amazing mom, and the pill!!
  34. My husband and I never wanted to have children, and thanks to the Pill, we never did. I'm a very happy Aunt, Great-Aunt, and Great-Great Aunt. We never regretted our decision. Thanks to the Pill, I got to live my own life, of my own choice, and I am grateful. I also never got PMS!
  35. I'm old now and no longer need the pill but remember well when we women didn't have it. Getting the pill gave women of my generation sexual freedom. We no longer had to worry about pregnancy each time we had sex. So instead of avoiding it for fear of pregnancy, we could relax, be ourselves and enjoy it as much as our partner. Fortunately, there are many options available for women now. Hopefully this generation won't go backward in time and lose that privilege.
  36. A few months ago, I had a baby.  It's been a wild, exhausting, exhilarating ride.  I don't know much yet about being a mother, but I do know one thing for sure:  I am a better parent in my thirties than I would have been in my teens or twenties.  Thank you, the Pill.  Happy anniversary.
  37. I started taking the pill a few months before I lost my virginity. I wanted to be prepared when that *magical* moment came, and never for a second wanted to worry about becoming a teen mom.
  38. I've been with my husband since high school. He's the only sexual partner I've ever had. In the time we've been together we both graduated high school, college and grad school!  Now we're moving abroad, and the pill will allow me to continue to not get pregnant until we are done with this adventure, back close to our families and ready to start our own family.
  39. In high school I used to pop emergency contraception like candy. In college I ended up pregnant and had to get an abortion. Now I'm on the pill and feel relieved to be working to prevent an unplanned pregnancy BEFORE I have sex.
  40. In college (many moons ago) I was on the pill, but when I cam home for the summer I didn't want my parents to find it. I ended up getting pregnant that summer. Now I think it would have been a lot easier to explain having the pill then telling my parents I was pregnant and needed an illegal abortion.
  41. After college I've bounced around from city to city, job to job. I am able to provide a pretty decent life for myself, but I kill plants and I can't imagine having a pet to take care of let alone a child. Access to birth control has made that one part of my hectic life I really haven't had to worry about.
  42. My boyfriend appreciates that my use of the pill not only helps us prevent an unplanned pregnancy, but also increased my cup size!
  43. I was in an abusive relationship. Luckily, my abuser didn't prevent me from taking the pill. Now that I am out of that relationship, I am so thankful not to have a child that would have tied me to my abuser forever.
  44. In high school I had horrific acne. Luckily my mom understood putting me on the pill to clear up my skin didn't mean I'd immediately start having sex. My skin cleared up, and I still waited until college to lose my virginity.
  45. For a long time I bounced around from pill to pill because I'm acutely susceptible to the hormone levels. I'm so happy to have so many options that my mother never had.
  46. Even though I'm a lesbian, I still use the pill. I like to think it is for positive reasons: clear skin, regular periods, etc. But in the back of my mind, I also know that if I was ever raped, at least I wouldn't have to worry about getting pregnant.
  47. I'm lucky. My mom put me on the pill early, so I don't know what not having it when I need it is like. But my mom has told me about when she was younger and she wasn't able to access the pill as a single woman. I thank my mom and the others who worked so hard to make sure access for my generation wasn't a struggle.
  48. I'm a provider who sees young women every day. I am proud that I am able to provide them with prescriptions for birth control. It is difficult being a young woman today and if I can make their lives one iota easier, I am happy and lucky to do that.
  49. During this recession I am worried about my job future. I am a proud mother and my husband and I would like another child. But now is not the time. I'm grateful that the pill can help us plan the appropriate time for the final addition to our family.
  50. My mom had me because she didn't have access to the pill. I love my mother and she's done all she can for me, but it was hard. Now I work to make sure other women are never faced with our hardship and that young women are aware of the availability of birth control.

While we are proud of this impressive list of the ways the birth control pill has positively impacted women's lives, we must also acknowledge that for some women the use of “the Pill” has not been without problems.

  1. I was on the Pill for years, but switched to an IUD. The Pill made me fat, but relieved PMS.
  2. I used the pill for many years, but I had to go off because I started getting high blood pressure. Now I worry what it has done to my body. Not to mention how they get the hormones they use in it. Other forms can have bad effects too. We need safer BC.

We must continue the work to make sure birth control works for every woman.


Compiled by the National Women's Law Center
May 2010