The Introduction and Circulation of the Contraceptive Pill in State-Socialist Poland (1960s-1970s)


  • Agata Ignaciuk Department of the History of Science and Institute for Women’s Studies, University of Granada, ES


History of state-socialist Poland, History of contraception, Drug history, Oral contraceptives


This paper discusses the introduction of the pill into the state-socialist Polish market in the late 1960s and its circulation over the following decade. Abortion, legalised for socio-economic reasons in 1956, had been available practically on demand since 1959, and there were no legal obsta - cles to contraception. The pill first appeared in Poland in the early 1960s, but was not widely available in pharmacies until 1969, when the local pharmaceutical industry began production. Throughout the 1970s, only two brands were widely available: Femigen and Angravid. The pill played a marginal role in family planning during the 1960s and 1970s in Poland, with cycle observation, backed by the possibility of a legal abortion, being the main resource for birth control. This was due to structural limits to the distribution of the pill on a centrally-planned market closed to Western pharmaceutical companies, cultural patterns of sexual behaviour, and the availability of abortion.