Historical: Ernst Gräfenberg and the Golden Year of the Silver Ring
On a windy, cold winter night some months ago I sat in a small room in an ancient castle near Münster, in northern Germany. Not far away was the village where my grandfather was born and raised and then lured by the exciting appeal of nineteenth-century America. And it was in that timeless castle, an ideal setting for such a narrative, that to me was unfolded in detail the saga of Dr. Ernst Gräfenberg and the intrauterine ring contraceptive device which bears his name. Nearby on my right sat Dr. Jack Lippes, the father of the Lippes loop, another classic IUD. He, too was largely a listener that night, for across the room, handling an assortment of antique contraceptive devices as if to pull from them hidden details and legends, was Dr. Hans Lehfeldt, who regaled Dr. Lippes and myself with anecdotes about the life of Dr. Gräfenberg and the days when only the farsighted and brave sought effective contraceptive technology for women under their care. Regarded from the exponential view of eternity, fifty years is a mere speck, but it can be a long time nonetheless, as we mortals chart our endeavours. The year 1979 marked one such epoch, half a century of progress in medicine important to humanity, and of German-American history in which this progress became intricately woven.
KeywordsIntrauterine Contraceptive Stainless Steel Ring National Birth Control Ring Contraceptive German Silver
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