Fifty years ago, one of the greatest health advancements hit the market: The birth control pill. Today, the pill is all grown up and includes low-dose pills, continuous (no period) pills, patches, and rings.  It's even used to treat acne, migraines, and other health issues. 

The Pill quickly became the most popular, reliable, and easiest reversible contraceptive option. It helped to revolutionize human sexuality and marriage since pregnancy was no longer an absolute consequence of intercourse. In 1960, most women still stayed at home as mothers and wives.  In 2010, women make up the majority of the workforce.  The Pill gave women that choice.

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), the average family size in 1957 included 3.7 children.  By 1972, families included only two children, spaced farther apart than in previous generations. This resulted in healthier families with greater standards of living and a reduction in maternal, infant, and child mortality rates.   The CDC says, "Smaller families and longer birth intervals have contributed to better health for infants, children, and women and improved the social and economic role of women." 

The Pill is one of the most researched medications. After 50 years, we know with confidence that it is safe for most women.  We also know it can increase risks for heart disease and stroke primarily in women who smoke or already have heart disease.  We've ruled out risks for women over 40, certain types of cancer, and learned we can safely take it for decades without taking a break.

Dr. Vanessa Cullins, MD, board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist and vice president for medical affairs at Planned Parenthood Federation of America writes, "Today, more women are using the Pill and staying on it longer. While some studies have reported an increase in the risk of developing breast cancer, the majority of studies have found no overall increase in this risk. Certain women should never use The Pill, including women who have blood clots, certain cancers, a history of heart attack or stroke, as well as those who are or may be pregnant."

We've busted some myths and confirmed others: 

Myth: The Pill causes weight gain.

Fact:  Partly True. Some women gain a few pounds on The Pill but studies show that most won't as long as they follow a healthy diet and exercise regularly.

Myth: The Pill causes infertility.

Fact: False. Studies show that most women have no trouble becoming fertile shortly after discontinuing the pill.  Infertility may be related to staying on the pill and delaying the age women begin trying to conceive. If they wait too long, it's  most likely their age, not the Pill that reduces fertility. 

Myth: The Pill cures acne.

Fact:  True.  Some but not all brands of birth control pills can help clear up your skin. 

Myth: No-period pills are safe.

Fact:  True. Studies show that not only are they safe for most women; they also  may be a healthier option for some than monthly periods.  Women with severe cramps, heavy bleeding and clotting, depression, migraines and other menstrual-related problems, find eliminating their periods leads to better health.

After 50 years, we know The Pill provides many benefits such as:

  • Less menstrual flow and cramping
  • Less infection of the fallopian tubes (pelvic inflammatory disease), which often leads to infertility
  • Fewer ectopic pregnancies (those in a fallopian tube)
  • Fewer noncancerous breast growths
  • Fewer ovarian cysts
  • Reduced risk of cancer of the lining of the uterus and of the ovaries
  • Less iron-deficiency anemia from heavy periods
  • Less acne
  • Fewer premenstrual symptoms including headaches and depression
  • Protection against osteoporosis
  • Less excess body hair
  • Less vaginal dryness and painful intercourse associated with menopause