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Birth Control in the 60s for my novel

  1. Billie Kelpin profile image86
    Billie Kelpinposted 2 months ago

    (This is the first time I've been back to hubpages for a while because I'm working on my first novel. The protagonist in my story is conflicted about sex before marriage with her young soldier-love interest who is ready to go off to Viet Nam. I need a timeline that makes sense for taking birth control pills.  Does anyone remember how long  a woman had to wait to be safe from pregnancy after taking the first birth control pill.  Was it a week as it is now, OR was it, as I remember, longer? I'm thinking a woman had to wait a month, but I really can't remember. I need to give my heroine enough time in the novel to be safe from pregnancy after she starts taking birth control pills. It's just a tiny detail, but I want to be accurate if I can.

    Thanks so much.  I've been working on this thing "If Not for War" for two plus years now and heading for the final chapters, then all the editing. UGH! I have about 80,000 words and there are about four or five chapters yet to go. 

    Thanks for any help you can give.

    Cheers to all.

    1. theraggededge profile image99
      theraggededgeposted 2 months agoin reply to this

      It was a full cycle back in the day smile

      Good luck.

      1. Patty Inglish, MS profile image93
        Patty Inglish, MSposted 2 months agoin reply to this

        Yes, I recall older friends who used Enovid in the 1960s a month before getting married and/or becoming sexually active. Most of them suffered nausea with the pill for the first one or two months.

    2. gmwilliams profile image84
      gmwilliamsposted 2 months agoin reply to this

      The best of luck.   This is great, Billie.  I am so proud.........

  2. LongTimeMother profile image96
    LongTimeMotherposted 2 months ago

    Hi Billie, I'm in Australia so I can't speak for the rest of the world but we were told a full month in the mid-70s. Here's the detail I recall most clearly about birth control pills back then, which might be useful to you.

    The pill pack was a tiny slip of cardboard with the pills circling it. Arrows around the cardboard were in two colours. When you got to the change in colour, you'd expect your period. That was about the extent of the instructions. There were no lengthy notes or warnings and doctors didn't warn you either, so I came unstuck on two counts.

    First, I became pregnant despite taking my pills at the same time every day. Why? Because nobody had ever mentioned that if you vomit or have diarrhea at ANY time during that month, the pill was considered useless. (Would have been helpful to have included that on those early pill packets.)

    Then, worse, after my child was born and they put me back on the pill, I copped a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in my lung) and was raced off to hospital in an ambulance after collapsing at a public swimming pool. Fortunately I was not in the water at the time, and a friend was there to look after my toddler. They blamed that on the pill as well.

    Needless to say, I was delighted to discover the existence of IUDs. lol. 
    Good luck with your novel.

    1. MizBejabbers profile image91
      MizBejabbersposted 2 months agoin reply to this

      LTM, that sounds like a very accurate description of the perils we faced when we older ladies pioneered birth control pills. And I believe that "perils" is an accurate word. A former college friend of mine's wife died from a stroke that was attributed to the pill. She was in her late 20s. After a few years, I was warned to get off them and never take them again because the doctor ruled me "stroke prone."
      Billie, I went on Enovid for the first time in 1962 after the birth of my first child, and as I recollect, we were told to wait a month before depending on them alone. My first Enovid prescription was just a bottle of pills. The cardboard blister packs were all new to us a few years later.