As an obstetrician-gynecologist in the 1950s, Jack Lippes, MD,
’47, fielded many complaints from patients dissatisfied with
their limited options for birth control. “Back then, it was a
diaphragm or condoms—that was it,” the UB professor
The need for “something better,” as Lippes says,
prompted him to research a new design for the intrauterine
At that time in the United States, controversy surrounded
IUDs’ safety and effectiveness. The mainstream medical
establishment considered them outside the realm of standard medical
practice; gynecological textbooks only mentioned them in
condemnation. Indeed, the few doctors who did offer patients IUDs
often swore them to secrecy, so fearful were they that colleagues
would ostracize them.
As Lippes embarked on his research, many discouraged him,
calling it “radical” and warning him that he would be
sued. And still he forged ahead, vigorously pursuing a more
effective IUD design than what had been invented to that point. The
result was the plastic double “S” loop—a
trapezoidal-shaped IUD that closely fit the contours of the uterine
cavity, thereby reducing the incidence of expulsion.
First distributed in 1962, the Lippes Loop quickly became the
most widely prescribed IUD in the United States.