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Bottle of 'Enovid' contraceptive pills, United Kingdom, 1960-1965

In 1961, ‘Enovid’ became the first oral contraceptive pill approved for use in the United Kingdom. Birth control was something of a taboo subject before the 1960s. ‘The pill’ seemed an ideal contraceptive because it was effective but not messy, and it did not interfere with sex. However, the first pills had a far higher level of hormones than was required. This caused heart problems in some women. ‘The pill’ is now prescribed with far lower levels of hormones.

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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.

Glossary: tablet

Also known as a pill, it is made by compressing a powdered form of one or more drugs. It is usually taken by mouth, but may be inserted into a different body cavity.

Glossary: materia medica

A Latin medical term sometimes used to refer to medical substances.