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Object: Contraceptive Pill, "Eugynon ED"

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Title Contraceptive Pill, "Eugynon ED"
Production Schering AG (manufacturer(s)), 1970s, Germany
Materials paper, cardboard, foil, plastic
Classification boxes, personalia, contraceptive pills
Dimensions Overall: 70mm (Height) x 166mm (Length) x 15mm (Depth)
Credit line Gift of Leslie and Shirley Megget, on behalf of Joyce Megget, 2010
Registration number GH020660

This contraceptive pill (Eugynon) was one of the first contraceptive pills to be prescribed in New Zealand.

Described as a revolution, 'the Pill' changed attitudes towards contraception in society. The Pill combined oestrogen and progestogen, taken by mouth to inhibit fertility. Combined oral contraceptives were first approved for use in the United States in 1960, and became the most popular type of birth control, being about 98% effective. The first contraceptive pill was available in New Zealand in 1961, by which time people were desperate for reliable birth control. New Zealand women were quick to take it, and became some of the highest users in the world. By the mid-1960s, the birth rate for married women began to decline. By the mid 1970s, half of all women of reproductive age were on the Pill.

The Pill allowed women to control their fertility independently of intercourse and without internal manipulations by a doctor. It was a more predictable form of contraception that the previous barrier methods. However, initially only married women were prescribed it. The original intention of the Pill was to help women space their families. Later, it was used to delay the timing of the first birth. By the late 1960s / early 1970s, as the reality of sexually active youth and changing social mores became more widely accepted, the Pill was used by unmarried people to protect against unwanted pregnancies.

However, fears arose in the 1970s that users of the Pill were at risk of higher death rates. Partly as a result, the Pill is one of the world’s most studied medications.

This box of pills can be considered part of 'hidden history', particularly women's hidden history.Such objects rarely survive, but have a huge impact on society, fertility, sexuality, and gender relations.

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