Women's medicine

Sex, family planning and British female doctors in transnational perspective, 1920-70

By Caroline Rusterholz

Women's medicine

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-4912-1
  • Pages: 280
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £25.00
  • Published Date: December 2020
  • BIC Category: History, Modern History, History of Medicine, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain / 20th Century, HISTORY / Europe / France, MEDICAL / History, HISTORY / Women, HISTORY / Modern / 20th Century, Humanities / British & Irish history, Humanities / 20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000, Society & social sciences / Gender studies: women, Medicine / History of medicine
  • Series: Social Histories of Medicine


Women's medicine highlights British female doctors' key contribution to the production and circulation of scientific knowledge around contraception, family planning and sexual disorders between 1920-70. It argues that women doctors were pivotal in developing a holistic approach to family planning and transmitting this knowledge across borders, playing a more prominent role in shaping scientific and medical knowledge than previously acknowledged.

The book locates women doctors' involvement within the changing landscape of national and international reproductive politics. Illuminating women doctors' agency in the male-dominated field of medicine, this book reveals their practical engagement with birth control and later family planning clinics in Britain, their participation in the development of the international movement of birth control and family planning and their influence on French doctors. Drawing on a wide range of archived and published medical materials, Rusterholz sheds light on the strategies British female doctors used and the alliances they made to put forward their medical agenda and position themselves as experts and leaders in birth control and family planning research and practice.



Henry-E.-Sigerist-Prize for the History of Medicine and Science


1 Giving birth control medical credentials in Britain, 1920-70
2 Sexual disorders and infertility, expanding the work of the clinics
3 Medicalizing birth control at the international conferences (1920-37), a British-French comparison
4 Building a transnational movement for family planning 1927-70
5 Testing IUDs, a transnational journey of expertise



Caroline Rusterholz is a Wellcome Trust Research Fellow in the Faculty of History at the University of Cambridge

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