THE GREATEST HORMONAL EXPERIMENT EVER? An interdisciplinary investigation into the influence of the birth control pill on women in Western societies
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As of 2009, the birth control pill constituted over 40 percent of all birth control measures taken in Europe, making it one of the largest and longest lasting hormonal experiments ever conducted on any group of people. While some changes in its chemical compound have occurred over the years, in essence the pill has remained virtually the same in its biochemical workings, affecting females’ sex-hormone levels and functioning in major parts of the population. Furthermore, the introduction of the pill has coincided and interacted with major societal changes such as the changing position of women, reflected for instance by the increase in female labor participation, and different societal attitudes towards sexuality and fertility. As the pill seems to impact the lives of so many individual women and society as a whole it deemed the authors relevant to examine what the exact effects of the pill have been and whether these effects have been mainly positive or negative. The aim of this study is to answer that question by investigating current literature on the effects of the pill on individual women and society and evaluating whether these effects have been improving the lives of women. Effects of the birth control pill transcend the boundaries of single disciplinary perspectives as it influences women’s bodies, behaviors, socioeconomic statuses and - through all the aforementioned - their position in societies at large. In this research we sought an answer to our interdisciplinary research question: To what extent has the birth control pill had a positive influence on women in western societies?