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History of Fertility Drugs

By R.J. Bowman ; Updated April 18, 2017

In 2009, women almost take fertility drugs for granted. Anyone who has trouble having a baby knows that there are specialists and treatments available to help her and that the success rates today are quite high. Fertility drugs and treatments have not always been readily available, though. In fact, the first steps toward modern fertility miracles began more than 80 years ago.

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The 1920s and 1930s

Before fertility drugs reproductive hormones were discovered. First, estrogen, the female hormone, was discovered in 1923. In 1935, the male hormone testosterone was discovered. These were key to the progress toward modern fertility treatments.

The 1940s and 1950s

The first synthetic hormones intended to increase fertility were created. By the 1950s, people were anxiously waiting for science to catch up to the demand for fertility help.

The 1960s

The ovary-stimulating drugs Clomid and hMG were made available in the United States in the 1960s. These drugs improve the likelihood of ovulation by up to 80 percent and chances of conception by up to 40 percent.

The 1970s and 1980s

In the 1970s and 1980s, fertility drugs were introduced to stimulate ovulation for egg retrieval, and the first “test tube babies” in Europe and the United States resulted in live births.

The 1990s and Today

Fertility drugs became almost commonplace during the 1990s, and by 2002, nearly 12 percent of married women of child-bearing age had used some form of fertility drug treatment.

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About the Author

R.J. Bowman has a Bachelor's degree in accounting with a minor in English from Pensacola Christian College. After college, she taught English to seventh graders until becoming a mom. At that time, she found freelance writing to be a great way to keep her writing skills sharp.

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