Impregnable Facts About Birth Control

May 8, 2024 | Miles Brucker

Impregnable Facts About Birth Control

Birth control can be a controversial subject. Churches oppose it, governments try to restrict it, parents and children get uncomfortable talking about it. But birth control does important work: it prevents unwanted pregnancy, gives families and individuals greater control in planning their lives, and can help regulate a host of health issues. Trying to decide if birth control is right for you? Here are 24 impregnable facts about birth control.

1. (Almost) Everybody Uses It

More than 57% of all women of childbearing age want to use some form of birth control. In the United States, 62% of women use some form of birth control, and 98% of American women say they have used some form of birth control at one time or another.

birth control

2. Birth Control and the Developing World

As of 2012, as many as 645 million women in the developing world were using some form of modern birth control, but there remain those with unmet birth control needs. Meeting existing demand would be costly, but would prevent 21 million unplanned births, 16 million unsafe abortions, and 7 million miscarriages.

Birth Control FactsGetty Images

3. Condoms

Some archaeologists claim the earliest form of birth control is the condom, and that it has been in use since Antiquity. Some of the earliest ones were made of animal bladders.

Birth Control FactsPixabay

4. The Pessary

Not all archaeologists agree, however; they argue that in most ancient cultures, contraception was generally regarded as the woman’s responsibility, and condoms weren’t used commonly until much later. In ancient times, women could resort to the pessary, an inserted barrier contraceptive. Pessaries were sometimes made of crocodile dung (which, being highly alkali, acts as a spermicide).

Deadly Animals FactsPixabay

5. The Blacksmith’s Solution

Other methods were less effective. One ancient Greek gynecologist advised women to drink the water blacksmiths had used to cool their works.

Birth Control FactsGetty Images

6. Gardening

Over the years, women relied on a variety of herbs and plants that had contraceptive or abortive properties. These included pennyroyal and wild carrot. One root, silphium, so popular in Ancient Rome that it became extinct due to over-harvesting.

Birth Control FactsFlickr, Marco Verch

7. When Life Gives You Lemons…

Women in the eighteenth century would sometimes use lemons as a diaphragm. The citric acid was an effective spermicide, but could also damage vaginal tissue.

Birth Control FactsNeedpix

8. Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding can be as effective a form of birth control as the pill, but it needs to be done properly. According to Planned Parenthood, if you exclusively breastfeed (that is, nurse every 4 hours in the day and every 6 hours in the evening), you naturally don't ovulate—and no ovulation means no pregnancy.

Stupidest Comments FactsShutterstock

9. Birth Control and the Church

For centuries, the Christian church has opposed active forms of contraceptive. Naturally, this created a taboo around birth control that lasts to this day. As recently as 1997, the Catholic Church reiterated the opinion, stating contraception “harms true love and denies the sovereign role of God in the transmission of human life.”

Birth Control FactsPixabay

10. Interrupted

In lieu of active contraception, the church has advised coitus interruptus, i.e. pulling out before male climax. Modern studies show this to be only 73% effective.

Online Friends FactsShutterstock

11. Just Don’t Do It

Others have urged that the only 100% effective means of contraception is abstinence. Despite the proven inefficacy of the abstinence-only approach, 26 states are legally mandated to stress abstinence.

Birth Control FactsFlickr

12. Unintended Pregnancies

82% of the United States’ 750,000 teenage pregnancies every year are unintended. This number tends to be highest among students given an abstinence-only sex education.

Birth Control FactsShutterstock

13. Margaret Sanger

The first birth control clinic in the United States was opened by Margaret Sanger, a nurse and activist. Sanger had seen first-hand the value of family planning: her mother endured 18 pregnancies in 22 years before dying at the young age of 49.

Birth Control FactsWikipedia

14. The Comstock Laws

Sanger’s work frequently ran afoul of the Comstock Act—a group of laws that prohibited the dissemination pornographic material, naughty toys, contraception, and even personal letters containing sensual content. Through frequent challenges on free-speech grounds, Sanger was able to slowly chip away at the Comstock Laws until 1936, when the provision banning contraceptives was overturned.

Birth Control FactsWikimedia Commons

15. The Pill

The first birth control pill, Enovid, was cleared by the FDA first in 1957 to treat menstrual disorders, and then in 1960 as a deliberate contraceptive. It has been named one of the “seven wonders of the modern world” for triggering the sensual revolution and allowing women a greater role in the workforce.

Birth Control FactsWikimedia Commons

16. Pill of the Year

In 1967, the birth control pill appeared on the cover of Time magazine in recognition of its enormous impact on society.

Millie Bobby Brown factsShutterstock

17. The One-Child Policy

China’s “One-child policy,” enacted in 1979, ensures that birth control is provided free to all families. The policy prevented an estimated 400 million births between 1979 and its deactivation in 2016, but led to an aging population with a skewed gender balance.

Birth Control FactsGetty Images

18. Smell and Taste

In addition to preventing unwanted pregnancies, the pill can also help mitigate menstrual symptoms and hormone fluctuations. But the birth control pill can also alter the user’s taste in men. Studies have shown women on the pill prefer the scent of men whose major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes are similar to their own; normally, women prefer men whose MHC genes are different.

Airport Goodbyes FactsMax Pixel

19. Fake News

The rise of the pill was met with a variety of urban legends, rumors, and deliberate attempts to spread misinformation. It has been said that the pill can increase a woman's risk of miscarriage, and even cause permanent infertility. Not only is that untrue, the pill has also been shown to lower the risk of uterine and ovarian cancers.

Birth Control FactsShutterstock

20. The IUD

One alternative to the pill, the IUD, is gaining in popularity. A small implant, the IUD is more convenient and consistent than a daily pill. Between 2002 and 2011, IUD usage tripled, and now upwards of 10% of contraceptive-using American women have one.

Birth Control FactsWikimedia Commons, Sarahmirk

21. Safety Matters

Other factors have made birth control a less taboo subject. For example, in response to the AIDS crisis, condom sales in the US grew.

Ruined Life FactsShutterstock

22. Condomania

Condomania, the US’s first contraceptive specialty store, opened in 1991. The New York City emporium carries over 100 varieties of condoms from around the world, and takes an active role in spreading awareness about safe sex. They have given presentations to exotic dancers’ unions and the Center for Disease Control.

Birth Control FactsFlickr

23. Family Planning

It is important to dispel the notion that birth control is only for young people, or people not in committed relationships. 45% of married couples, globally, use some form of birth control.

Birth Control FactsMax Pixel

24. Be Consistent

The first time you had sex, it's very likely that you did not use birth control. Up to a quarter of Americans don't use birth control the first time. Also, many people don't use birth control methods properly. To make the most of your methods, be consistent. Of the couples who use birth control but do experience an unintended pregnancy, 95% were using a contraceptive incorrectly or inconsistently.

Birth Control FactsPeakpx

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17

More from Factinate

Featured Article

My mom never told me how her best friend died. Years later, I was using her phone when I made an utterly chilling discovery.

Dark Family Secrets

Dark Family Secrets Exposed

Nothing stays hidden forever—and these dark family secrets are proof that when the truth comes out, it can range from devastating to utterly chilling.
April 8, 2020 Samantha Henman

Featured Article

Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.

Madame de Pompadour Facts

Entrancing Facts About Madame de Pompadour, France's Most Powerful Mistress

Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.
December 7, 2018 Kyle Climans

More from Factinate

Featured Article

I tried to get my ex-wife served with divorce papers. I knew that she was going to take it badly, but I had no idea about the insane lengths she would go to just to get revenge and mess with my life.

These People Got Genius Revenges

When someone really pushes our buttons, we'd like to think that we'd hold our head high and turn the other cheek, but revenge is so, so sweet.
April 22, 2020 Scott Mazza

Featured Article

Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but few people know her even darker history.

Catherine of Aragon Facts

Tragic Facts About Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s First Wife

Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but very few people know her even darker history.
June 7, 2018 Christine Tran

Dear reader,

Want to tell us to write facts on a topic? We’re always looking for your input! Please reach out to us to let us know what you’re interested in reading. Your suggestions can be as general or specific as you like, from “Life” to “Compact Cars and Trucks” to “A Subspecies of Capybara Called Hydrochoerus Isthmius.” We’ll get our writers on it because we want to create articles on the topics you’re interested in. Please submit feedback to Thanks for your time!

Do you question the accuracy of a fact you just read? At Factinate, we’re dedicated to getting things right. Our credibility is the turbo-charged engine of our success. We want our readers to trust us. Our editors are instructed to fact check thoroughly, including finding at least three references for each fact. However, despite our best efforts, we sometimes miss the mark. When we do, we depend on our loyal, helpful readers to point out how we can do better. Please let us know if a fact we’ve published is inaccurate (or even if you just suspect it’s inaccurate) by reaching out to us at Thanks for your help!

Warmest regards,

The Factinate team

Want to learn something new every day?

Join thousands of others and start your morning with our Fact Of The Day newsletter.

Thank you!

Error, please try again.