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Model of a contraceptive pill, Europe, c. 1970

Birth control was still a taboo subject before the 1960s. ‘The pill’ seemed an ideal contraceptive because it was effective, not messy, and did not interfere with sex. The oral contraceptive pill also empowered women to take greater control of contraception. However, the first pills had a far higher level of hormones than required. This caused heart problems in some women. Later pills rectified this. ‘The pill’ is still prescribed worldwide.

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Glossary: model - representation

Use for a scaled representation of an object or structure, usually three-dimensional. The item is often idealised or modified to make it conceptually easier to understand.

Glossary: hormone

A substance produced in one part of the body which passes into the bloodstream and is then carried to other (distant) organs or tissues, where it acts to modify their structure or function

Glossary: contraception

The use of methods and techniques to prevent pregnancy from sex.

Glossary: oral contraceptive pill

A drug containing hormones, taken to stop pregnancy.