Home / AMERICAN NEWS / Why Do Birth Control Pill Containers Look Like That? — ‘The Why’

Why Do Birth Control Pill Containers Look Like That? — ‘The Why’

Welcome to the newest edition of The Why. “Why do birth control pill containers look like that?” you ask? Good question. (OK, it’s not that great but it beats answering questions about why certain parts are named what they’re named. Yours truly just focuses on doing what needs to be done not worrying about the scientific names, mmmkay?)

birth control

Why do birth control pill containers look like that?/Image: Gurl

For those of you not up on your birth control history, let’s review. Our guest speaker Diane Kelly, contributor to Throb, recently researched this. She reports that back in 1961 birth control pills came loose and in vials.

She adds: “They also came with complex instructions on how to take them. A woman had to wait 5 days after her period started, then take one pill each day for 20 days, then stop and wait until her period started again. Confused yet?”

It was this very confusion that inspired someone to create containers such as those we have today.  David and Doris Wagner of Elmhurst, Illinois had four kids and then remembered the most important parenting rule: “Never have more kids than you have hands to slap them with.”

Mrs. Wagner went on the pill. The couple could not always recall if she had taken her pill or not on any given day and unless you’re catholic or Chinese the thought of heading towards being a real life Brady Bunch wasn’t a pleasant thought.

birth control

Why do birth control pill containers look like that?/Image: MotherJones

There had to be a better way . . . and yet there wasn’t. Kelly confirms adding: “They tried laying out pills on a calendar, but the pills could get knocked around” so that was no good either.

Luckily, David was an engineer. He came up with the idea of “combining a pill box with a calendar to make it easy to tell when pills had been consumed.” A couple of months later he had two different designs: “a sliding rectangular calendar and the round version inside a case.”

Why create a round version if the rectangular calendar-container combination made things convenient and a lot less confusing? Kelly states it was not just “convenient accessibility”. The round case was designed in order to “protect a woman’s privacy.”

birth control

Why do birth control pill containers look like that?/Image: YouTube

The pill case was meant to be “indistinguishable from a lady’s cosmetic ‘compact’” and “to be carried among the personal effects of a lady in a purse, or the like, without giving a visible clue as to matters which are of no concern to others.”

Why do birth control pill containers look like that? Now you know.

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About Will Phoenix

W. Scott Phoenix, B.A., B.S. was born in Hawaii, raised in Pennsylvania and resides in California. He has been a published writer since 1978. His work has appeared (under various names) in numerous places in print and online including Examiner.com. He is a single parent of three children and has also worked as an actor, singer and teacher. He has been employed by such publications as the Daily Collegian and the Los Angeles Times.