The business of birth control

Contraception and commerce in Britain before the sexual revolution

By Claire L. Jones

The business of birth control


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-3628-2
  • Pages: 256
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: September 2020
  • BIC Category: History, Modern History, History of Medicine, Social & cultural history, MEDICAL / History, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Abortion & Birth Control, HISTORY / Social History, Medicine / History of medicine, Economics, finance, business & management / Economic history, Birth Control, Contraception, Family Planning, Humanities / Social & cultural history
  • Series: Manchester University Press


The business of birth control is the first book-length study to examine contraceptives as commodities in Britain before the pill. Drawing on new archives and neglected promotional and commercial material, the book demonstrates how hundreds of companies transformed condoms and rubber and chemical pessaries into consumer goods that became widely available via discreet mail order catalogues, newspapers, birth control clinics, chemists' shops and vending machines in an era when older and more reserved ways of thinking about sex jostled uncomfortably with modern and more open attitudes. The book outlines the impact of contraceptive commodification on consumers, but also demonstrates how closely the contraceptive industry was intertwined with the medical profession and the birth control movement, who sought authority in birth control knowledge at a time when sexual knowledge and who had access to it was contested.


'[...] a much-needed addition'.


Introduction: contraceptive commercialisation before the Pill
1 The dynamics of production: contraceptive manufacturing
2 Shaping markets: packaging, brands and trademarks
3 The print culture of contraceptives: advertising and the circulation of birth control knowledge
4 'As honest as business permits': medical practitioners, birth control clinics and contraceptive efficacy
5 Over the counter and on the high street: contraceptive retailing in the urban landscape


Claire L. Jones is Senior Lecturer in the History of Medicine at the University of Kent

Newsletter Sign Up

Manchester University Press

Your cart is empty.

Select your shipping destination to estimate postage costs

(Based on standard shipping costs)

Final cost calculated on checkout
Promotional codes can be added on Checkout