Elsimar M. Coutinho

Elsimar Metzker Coutinho (18 May 1930 – 17 August 2020)[1] was a Brazilian scientist of Luso-Austrian descent, professor, gynecologist, television personality, and character named as "Prince of Itapoa",[2] in the books of Jorge Amado which references the Coutinho family's land in Itapoa where Amado himself lived.[3]

Dr.Elsimar Coutinho.jpg


Coutinho was born in Pojuca, the son of a landowner, politician and pharmacognosis professor of the Pharmacology School of Paraná (Escola de Farmácia do Paraná),[4][5] who was appointed mayor of the municipality of Pojuca in the 1930s (during the military coup that placed Getulio Vargas, a civilian, in the presidency) and Mrs. Alaíde Metzker. Coutinho is also the brother of Senator Alaor Coutinho[6] and the artist Riolan Coutinho.[7] Coutinho triangulated between South America, North America and Europe on a regular basis.

Coutinho is a descendant of a branch of the Portuguese Coutinho family which settled lands in South America when they married into the family of Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, Marquis of Pombal."[8]

Coutinho completed his early education in Pojuca, followed by high school at the Colégio Estadual da Bahia (Central). The family arrived in the city of Salvador when his father decided to develop a vast expanse of land in a neighbourhood of the city known as Itapoã, made famous by the books of Jorge Amado and the music of Dorival Caymmi. To this day the family still own large sections of the beachfront.

Location of Itapoã in Salvador.

The former Coutinho lands are the triangle between what is known today as Dorival Caymmi square to the Pedra do Sal, up to and including the Abaetê Lagoon.[9] Later Coutinho studied pharmacy at the Faculdade de Farmácia e Bioquímica, graduating in 1951 followed by a course in medicine, completed in 1956, both at the Federal University of Bahia/UFBA.[10]

Coutinho then attended a graduate course at the Sorbonne in Paris. There he met his wife Micheline Charlotte,[11][12] a descendant of the aristocratic Barlatier de Mas[13] and Peghoux[14] families. They had three children, E. Coutinho Neto, Tess P. Coutinho Dorea and Charlotte P. Coutinho Lisboa, and six grandchildren.[15] His primary residence was the former Governor's mansion on Salvador's North Shore.[16] He also spent time at the Coutinho country estate, Fazenda Nossa Senhora da Paz[17] and on his yacht, The Breeze.[18][19]

Coutinho died from complications of COVID-19 during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil.[1]


At the Sorbonne, Coutinho studied with professor Claude Fromageot, which led to his interest in hormonal mechanisms, a topic on which he became a specialist and continued to research.[20]

On his return from France he became an associate professor of physiology at UFBA, but not for long as he was invited to be a fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation in the area of reproductive endocrinology, there he worked at the "Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research", which has become "Rockefeller University". Following giants of human reproductive research such as A. Csapo and G. Corner (discoverers of progesterone) Coutinho began studying steroids with progestagenic effects, and in particular was able to identify the role of ions, calcium and magnesium as peripheral agents in the action of progesterone.[21]

After leaving New York, Coutinho became the director of clinical research of the Climério de Oliveira Maternity Clinic of the Federal University of Bahia. Under his directorship the center became the first Human Reproduction Research Center of the World Health Organization in Latin America.[21]

In the early 1960s Coutinho began studying the use of progestagenic substances in the prevention of premature births. In those studies he observed and described the contraceptive effect of medroxiprogesterone (MPA). These studies led to the discovery of the first injectable contraceptive: Ciclofem.[22]

The discovery pushed Coutinho's research into the limelight, making him one of the world authorities in endocrinology and family planning. During that period Coutinho made family planning his cause célebre, and began creating family planning programs in collaboration with a number of countries and institutions, including that of China organized by the, then, University of Shanghai. Coutinho was the founder of the first large-scale free family planning centers in Brazil. The centers named CEPARH are open to the public and treat thousands of low-income women per year at no charge.[23]

After Ciclofem, Coutinho was the pioneer of the studies that led to the discovery of the use of Depo-Provera, the first injectable contraceptive method with prolonged effects.[24]

Coutinho also proposed the first contraceptive pill containing norgestrel,[25] which is today the most used contraceptive pill method in the world. That discovery was followed by the first reduced dosage pill. Other discoveries by Coutinho include subcutaneous prolonged effect contraceptives (6 months, 1 year, 2 years, 3 years and 6 years), two intrauterine devices known as the Lorena Cross and the Caravaca Cross[26] and Lovelle, the vaginal pill.

Coutinho was also responsible for the discovery of treatments for women with infertility caused by endometriosis, a topic on which he became a world expert, being the host and president of the 4th World Congress on Endometriosis. Coutinho published the first studies on the reduction of Miomas in 1982.[27]

Coutinho was one of the founders of the "International Committee for Contraceptive Research" – ICCR, of the "Population Council", notorious for their work on IUDs medicated with copper and Norplant the subdermal hormonal implant with levonorgestrel.[28]

He was also director of the human reproduction council of the "Steering Committee of the Task Force on Infertility of the Expanded Programme in Human Reproduction" of the World Health Organization.[29]

Coutinho was a member of 32 medical societies. By the year 2000 he had participated as a guest lecturer in 253 congresses. He published 350 scientific studies, mostly in international medical journals such as Nature, Endocrinology, Fertility and Sterility, and The American Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Contraception. He has published ten books. His book Is Menstruation Obsolete?, co-authored with Sheldon Segal in 1996, is in its 8th edition. The English version of this book was published by Oxford University Press and has received praise from medical journals such as The Lancet, Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and the British Medical Association's reviewer who called it a masterpiece.[30]


  • The Modern Contraceptive Pill
  • The Vaginal Pill (Lovelle)
  • The Cruz de Caravaca & Croix de Lorraine IUD's (Intra-Uterine-Devices)
  • The Male Contraceptive Pill

Male contraceptive pillEdit

Coutinho was responsible for the discovery of the contraceptive effects of gossypol, a substance extracted from cotton. This discovery led to studies into the first male non-hormonal contraceptive pill.[31]

Menstrual suppressionEdit

Coutinho has studied menstrual suppression since the 1960s. Those studies culminated in the publishing of "Is Menstruation Obsolete", co-authored with Sheldon Segal.[32]

The Biology of JealousyEdit

O Sexo do Ciúme[33] published in 2007, is a compilation of texts and studies which relate biology to human behaviour, along the lines of studies in human behavioural ecology. The author explains the natural factors which influence jealousy and male/female attitudes in regards to sex and relationships.


2000 Tomé de Sousa Medal

1994 Merit Medal of the State of Bahia

1993 Segal-Mastroianni Prize, World Academy of Art and Science.[36]

1992 Nominated to the Nobel Council by the Legislature of the State of Bahia

1990 1st José Silveira Medal, Rotary Club

1990 Christopher Columbus Award, International Federation of Fertility Societies (IFFS).

1985 World Academy of Population and Health Sciences Award, World Academy of Population and Health Sciences.

1985 Axel Munthe Award. Finalist, Axel Munthe.

1979 Medal of Achievement from the FBEFM

1971 Upjohn Award, IFFS

Controversy and criticismEdit

Coutinho had a controversial career which included a public battle with Cardinal Moreira Neves, in which he and the Cardinal attacked each other through the press. The battle coincided with the Candelaria Massacre for which Coutinho said the church had indirect responsibility as the children were killed on their doorstep and whilst the church refused to acknowledge the need for family planning, after children were born and abandoned their doors were closed to them.[37] He was accused of racism by the Geledes Black Women's Institute for only using images of black women on the publicity for his free clinics. Coutinho responded that the publicity is designed to suit the majority of the population and that what would be racist would be to make commercials with white women when the majority is black or mixed race.[38]


  1. ^ a b Line, A. TARDE On. "Morre médico Elsimar Coutinho após complicações da Covid-19". Portal A TARDE.
  2. ^ Bahia de Todos os Santos, Jorge Amado
  3. ^ Borges, Thais (30 May 2014). "Casa que foi de Jorge Amado em Itapuã será leiloada neste sábado". Jornal CORREIO | Notícias e opiniões que a Bahia quer saber (in Brazilian Portuguese). Retrieved 19 August 2020.
  4. ^ "Mel e abelhas brasileiras". Brasil Escola.
  5. ^ [1][permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "Senado Federal – Biografia dos Senadores". Archived from the original on 5 August 2012. Retrieved 19 April 2008.
  7. ^ Riolan Coutinho – Vida e obra
  8. ^ A Casa dos Coutinho, Linhagem, Espaço e Poder,1999, Luis Filipe de Oliveira
  9. ^ Bahia de Todos os Santos: A Guide to Streets and Mysteries by Jorge Amado
  10. ^ http://www.elsimarcoutinho.com.br/curriculo Archived 7 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine Biografia em sítio pessoal, pesquisado em 26 de julho de 2007, 16:09
  11. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20121009114230/http://issuu.com/revistamuito/docs/_56. Archived from the original on 9 October 2012. Retrieved 25 September 2010. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ Brasil e Brasileiros de hoje, Volume 1 página 376
  13. ^ Baron Barlatier de Mas
  14. ^ Dictionnaire universel de la noblesse de France .. Escrito por Jean Baptiste Pierre Jullien de Courcelles
  15. ^ Brasil e Brasileiros de hoje: enciclopédia de biografias by Afrânio Coutinho, 1961, Editorial Sul Americana
  16. ^ Revista – Edição 809 – O PARAÍSO PRIVADO DE ELSIMAR COUTINHO NA BAHIA, Valter Pontes
  17. ^ Documentary Janelas Fechadas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULrjQ27gPfg
  18. ^ Ciça Vallerio – O Estado de S.Paulo, Suplemento, Uma bandeira polêmica, 28 October 2007
  19. ^ Entrevista no Programa Nomes, Luzia Santhana
  20. ^ Febrasgo. "Nota de Falecimento – Professor Elsimar Coutinho". febrasgo.org.br. Retrieved 19 August 2020.
  21. ^ a b "Nota de pesar: Cremeb lamenta falecimento do médico e cientista Elsimar Coutinho". Portal Cremeb BA (in Brazilian Portuguese). 17 August 2020. Retrieved 19 August 2020.
  22. ^ "Elsimar Coutinho – Desenvolvimento inicial da DEPO-PROVERA e CYCLOFEM como anticoncepcionais injetáveis de longa duração – Um relato pessoal por ELSIMAR COUTINHOElsimar Coutinho". Retrieved 19 August 2020.
  23. ^ "Fundado por Elsimar Coutinho, CEPARH ajuda famílias com atendimentos gratuitos: 'Fruto de um sonho'". G1 (in Brazilian Portuguese). Retrieved 19 August 2020.
  24. ^ Under the Banyan Tree: A Population Scientist's Odyssey – Page 99, Sheldon J. Segal – 2003
  25. ^ "Elsimar Coutinho's research works | Universidade Federal da Bahia, Salvador and other places".
  26. ^ http://www.fg2010.wwc2017.eventos.dype.com.br/resources/anais/1278256501_ARQUIVO_ST04_DanielaManica_Contracepcaotecnocienciaebiopolitica.pdf[bare URL PDF]
  27. ^ "Previous World Congresses on Endometriosis | World Endometriosis Society". Retrieved 19 August 2020.
  28. ^ "The International Committee for Contraception Research | Population Council". www.popcouncil.org. Retrieved 19 August 2020.
  29. ^ "Nota de pesar – Prof. Elsimar Metzker Coutinho | Faculdade de Medicina da Bahia". www.fameb.ufba.br. Retrieved 19 August 2020.
  30. ^ "Elsimar Coutinho – BiografiaElsimar Coutinho" (in Brazilian Portuguese). Retrieved 19 August 2020.
  31. ^ "ANTICONCEPCIONAIS MASCULINOS" (in Portuguese). Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 19 April 2008.
  32. ^ Coutinho, Elsimar M; Segal, Sheldon J; Coutinho, Elsimar M (1999). Is menstruation obsolete?. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-1-4237-6040-5. OCLC 65181385.
  33. ^ O Sexo do Ciúme, Editora Landscape
  34. ^ "Roberto Badaró relembrou prêmios internacionais que Elsimar Coutinho recebeu, em cerimônia de cremação". Anota Bahia (in Brazilian Portuguese). Retrieved 19 August 2020.
  35. ^ "Elsimar Coutinho – (Português) CurrículoElsimar Coutinho". Retrieved 19 August 2020.
  36. ^ http://www.worldacademy.org/files/Newsletters/March_1992.pdf Page 3
  37. ^ ISTOÉ Gente Online
  38. ^ Damasco, Mariana Santos; Maio, Marcos Chor; Monteiro, Simone (April 2012). "Feminismo negro: raça, identidade e saúde reprodutiva no Brasil (1975–1993)". Revista Estudos Feministas (in Portuguese). 20 (1): 133–151. doi:10.1590/S0104-026X2012000100008. ISSN 0104-026X.

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