Contraceptive pills have been used by countless women around the world to control menstrual cycles since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration first approved them in 1960.

But World Health Organization statistics show that only 1.1 percent of Japanese women aged between 15 and 49 used oral contraceptives in 2015 — far below the rates of 40 percent seen in France, 37 percent in Germany, and 16 percent in the United States.

The low rate has been attributed to misconceptions about using such pills, including excessive worries over side effects and a long-standing belief among many Japanese women that controlling menstrual cycles via medication is unnatural and harmful.