One of two round pill boxes of Dr John Hooper's Female Pills, by John Hooper, 1900-1950
John Hooper, an apothecary in Reading, England, patented his ‘Female Pills’ in 1743 – they are among the earliest and most successful ‘patent medicines’ sold in England. Promoted as anti-hysteria pills, they were also used for stomach and period problems. An advertisement from the 1750s describes them as “the best medicine ever discovered for young women, when afflicted with what is commonly called the irregularities”. It was also suggested that pregnant women should not take them, which inevitably led to the pills being used in the hope of ending an inconvenient pregnancy.
The pills were still being sold both in England and the United States well into the twentieth century.