Fifty years of contraception

It’s half a century since the first family planning clinic opened in Geneva, and young people in particular continue to reap the benefits of the service. (RTS/ 

This content was published on July 10, 2015 - 10:12

Fear of another pregnancy, the turmoil surrounding abortions, a lack of information concerning contraceptive methods: these were the problems faced by young couples in 1965, when the clinic was opened to help people in distress. 

At that time, coitus interruptus – withdrawing before ejaculation – was the most common form of birth control. Women who visited the clinic were urged to use the slightly more reliable method of taking their temperatures to gauge the risk of pregnancy.

The first contraceptive pill was treated with great suspicion, due to its supposed character-changing properties. 

It was William Geisendorf who founded the clinic in the Boulevard Saint George. He went on to set up the unit for gynaecology and sexology at Geneva University Hospital, run by Willy Pasini. It was the first of its kind in Europe.

You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at

Sort by

Change your password

Do you really want to delete your profile?

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Almost finished... We need to confirm your email address. To complete the subscription process, please click the link in the email we just sent you.

Discover our weekly must-reads for free!

Sign up to get our top stories straight into your mailbox.

The SBC Privacy Policy provides additional information on how your data is processed.