Statistics show that 88,000 children were born in Denmark in 1966. In October of the same year the contraceptive pill was legalised; just three years later the number of births in Denmark had fallen to 70,000. The pill quickly became a widespread form of contraception; in 1970 it was used by approximately 200,000 Danish women. With legal access to oral contraception, women had gained control over their own bodies and could decide if and when to have children.
But oral contraception was not without its problems. The contraceptive pill contains hormones that change the natural hormonal balance of the body, and the first oral contraceptives on the market contained very high doses of hormones. Women who started taking the contraceptive pill in the 1960s and 1970s suffered many adverse effects such as nausea, weight gain and cardiovascular diseases. The women’s movement and new research initiatives criticised the pharmaceutical industry for conducting a form of public trial run and for not taking these adverse effects seriously.
The oral contraceptive had a huge impact on sexual activity and mores. There was no longer an automatic connection between sexual intercourse and reproduction; women could have an active sex life without fear of pregnancy.
But the contraceptive pill had come to stay. Fortunately, oral contraception for women is now far safer than it was in the 1960s. Today, approximately 320,000 women in Denmark are on the pill.