Scientific and medical contraceptive standards are commonly believed to have begun with the advent of the oral contraceptive pill in the late 1950s. This article explains that in Britain contraceptive standards were imagined and implemented at least two decades earlier by the Family Planning Association, which sought to legitimize contraceptive methods, practice and provision through the foundation of the field of contraceptive science. This article charts the origins of the field, investigating the three methods the association devised and employed to achieve its goal of effecting contraceptive regulation. This was through the development of standardized methods to assess spermicidal efficacy; the establishment of quality, strength and manufacturing standards for rubber prophylactics; and the institution of animal trials to ensure the safety of specific contraceptives. The association publicized the results of its scientific testing on proprietary contraceptives in its annual Approved List of contraceptives. This provided doctors and chemists with a definitive register of safe and effective methods to prescribe.
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