Sexual Chemistry by Lara V. Marks
A History of the Contraceptive Pill

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Heralded as the catalyst of the sexual revolution and the solution to global overpopulation, the contraceptive pill was one of the twentieth century’s most important inventions. It has not only transformed the lives of millions of women but has also pushed the limits of drug monitoring and regulation across the world. This deeply-researched new history of the oral contraceptive shows how its development and use have raised crucial questions about the relationship between science, medicine, technology, and society.

Lara Marks traces the scientific origins of the pill to Europe and Mexico in the early years of the twentieth century, challenging previous accounts that championed it as a North American product. She explores the reasons why the pill took so long to be developed and explains why it did not prove to be the social panacea envisioned by its inventors. Unacceptable to the Catholic Church, rejected by countries such as India and Japan, too expensive for women in poor countries, it has, more recently, been linked to cardiovascular problems. Reviewing the positive effects of the pill, Marks shows how it has been transformed from a tool for the prevention of conception to a major weapon in the fight against cancer.


About Lara V. Marks

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LARA MARKS is a visiting senior research associate at Cambridge University and an honorary senior lecturer at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Published June 15, 2001 by Yale University Press. 352 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, History, Parenting & Relationships, Professional & Technical, Self Help, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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(Marks notes that in the wake of this latter-day schism “the number of Catholics who believed that the Pope derived his authority directly from Jesus declined between 1963 and 1974 from 70 to 42 percent.”) Although manufacturers hoped that the Pill would be a panacea for the problem of world over...

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The Guardian

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Sexual Chemistry: A History of the Contraceptive Pill Lara V Marks Yale University Press £20, pp372 The story of the Pill seems, at first, like a contorted moral tale about sexual politics.

Jun 10 2001 | Read Full Review of Sexual Chemistry: A History o...

Publishers Weekly

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Though much criticism has been leveled at the medical establishment for rushing the pill to market without sufficient testing, Marks points out that experimental protocols were vague during this period, and argues that contraceptive researchers were stymied by the difficulties of testing the pill...

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Project MUSE

But Marks makes an even bolder claim by recasting the women whose bodies tested the pill as volunteers rather than victims.

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