Dr. Elsimar Coutinho is, unquestionably, a man born to make history. For more than 50 years, his research and discoveries in the fields of human health and reproduction have broken paradigms and brought down millenary concepts.
For his huge contribution to the health and well being of the human being, is recognized worldwide as an icon of medicine. But what makes this Brazilian, born in Pojuca - Bahia, such a singular professor, ahead of his time its not just the hundreds of papers published all over the world. Dr. Coutinho is above in love with medicine. A passion that, according to him, was inherited. "Medicine to me was not exactly a choice. It was something natural, a kind of inheritance. In a way, my father Elsior Coutinho, who was himself a physician, pharmacologist and professor of pharmacology, influenced me. He taught how to extract drugs from plants, something that my grandfather did, even though he did not graduate. My grandfather was a practitioner in medicine and my father, certainly was inspired by him."(COUTINHO, E.M.) First graduated in pharmacology and then in medicine by the Federal University of Bahia, Dr. Coutinho was a post-graduate student of endocrinology at the Sorbonne University in Paris, France, and in the Rockefeller Institute in New York, USA. In the beginning of his qualification process, he learned something that would guide his whole professional journey. "When I started studying, I was fascinated by the chemistry of life. At the time, the relation between hormones and human reproduction had just been unveiled. And reproduction is the most dynamic part of life."(COUTINHO, E.M.) Dr. Coutinho made his most distinguished discoveries as a professor and researcher at the Federal University of Bahia.In the 60s, after observing for the first time the benefits of menstrual suppression, Dr. Coutinho made a most extraordinary revelation to the world: the first injectable contraceptive of prolonged use. The disclosure of this brand new revelation generated much polemic, which endures until these days. Following closely after that, Dr. Coutinho introduced other important contraceptive methods, amongst which, the most outstanding are the injectables, the oral and vaginal pills and the subcutaneous hormonal implants. These most advanced medications allowed the unprecedented continuous liberation and personalized hormonal replacement treatment for menstrual suppression and contraception. In the 70s, Dr. Coutinho created another major polemic after presenting at the World Population Congress in Bucharest, Romany, the male contraceptive. In 1996, after publishing his fifth book, "Is Menstruation Obsolete?" Dr. Coutinho disclosed to the world what he considers his greatest contribution to humanity: the theory that menstruation is harmful and superfluous. He realized that the suppression of menstruation could contribute to ensure the maintenance of women's health and the self-esteem. Four decades later, came recognition: the suppression of menstruation was considered one of the 10 biggest achievements of medicine of all times. "My greatest contribution to humanity was to realize that menstruation was unnecessary, a disposable phenomena. Women can reproduce without bleeding because menstruation is not a condition to pregnancy. 'Menstruation is unnecessary, ovulation is necessary'. Menstruation is optional, not obligatory. Obligatory to pregnancy is to ovulate, women need only to ovulate when they want to get pregnant."(COUTINHO, E.M.) Dr. Coutinho also developed a series of other medicines, like pregnancy facilitating drugs, drugs that stops premature labour and spontaneous abortion, drugs that avoid conception and drugs for hormonal replacement therapy in both sexes. His achievements in the medical field did not stop Dr. Coutinho from contributing, in an exemplary manner, with his social responsibility. He was one of the biggest worldwide supporters of birth control as a means for family planning. "A wanted child is the guarantee of happiness for the whole family. On the other hand, an unwanted and unassisted pregnancy will lead to problems not only for the future mother, but also for the father, members of the family, the child himself and especially to society."(COUTINHO, E.M.) Several different countries with the most diverse ideologies, cultures and religions invited Dr. Coutinho, to assist in birth control projects. He has been a pioneer in implementing Family Planning, in Brazil, a saga that goes on to these days in Salvador, capital of Bahia, with CEPARH - Centre of Research and Assistance in Human Reproduction, an Institution of international recognition to which he is president. Today, at the age of 87, Dr. Elsimar M. Coutinho, considers himself fully content for having contributed so that the human being could fulfil the dream of living a much better life. Nevertheless, he believes that his mission isn't accomplished yet. "Failure is not using what one has learned. To continue being useful is a great virtue. I have graduated more than 50 years ago, its decades of intense activity, attending to more than 20 patients a day. I keep on updating my knowledge to fully accomplish my mission and try to get better each day."(COUTINHO, E.M.) Presently, on top of attending to patients in several towns, Dr. Coutinho runs the Centre of Research and Assistance in Human Reproduction (CEPARH) in Salvador, is member in more than 20 research institutions in Brazil and abroad and a councillor to the World Health Organization.