Agency: Author: Sarah Newman

Let’s talk about sex: The European launch of Persona

A Unique Sexual Proposition

In 1995 we were presented with a bizarre-looking new product. It looked like a contoured white pocket calculator with a lid. It was one of those dinky pieces of consumer electronics (a bit like the Sony Walkman) that made you want to touch and feel it. Open it up and you find a button to push, a small screen, and a place to slot in dipsticks. But it was nothing to do with music, DIY, make up...

Unipath, the medical diagnostic division of Unilever, had been developing a new method of contraception that would revolutionise the way women thought about sex and fertility. The bit of kit we held in our hands was the result of 15 years of R&D and the most extensive contraceptive trial ever known in Europe. Called Persona, the idea of the system was to measure a woman’s hormones to tell her when she is ovulating and when to avoid unprotected sex so she doesn’t get pregnant. Like a home pregnancy test, you simply wee on a stick when the machine tells you to and it gives you a green or red light depending where you are in your cycle.