In the 1930s, two female hormones were isolated and produced from natural sources, from the urine of pregnant mare, or from Mexican sweet root. Progestins (progesterone, luteal hormone) were discovered to maintain gestation, and estrogens (follicular hormones) are understood to affect menstrual cycles. In the 1950s, synthetic versions of these hormones were produced and their effects on human conception and pregnancy were studied. Their excellent contraceptive qualities led to the development of oral contraceptives (birth control pills) for women.
Enovid, approved in the USA in 1960, was the first birth-control pill to contain a mixture of estrogens and progestins for maximum effectiveness.
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