[6] [7] Eve Espey, MD, MPH, Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of New Mexico, stated, “Nonsteroidal medicines kill far more people than birth-control pills.” [6]. All rights reserved. If you're too embarrassed to check out your local family planning aisle, or if you can't get to a store, you can also buy OTC birth control online. Here are the proper bibliographic citations for this page according to four style manuals (in alphabetical order): [Editor's Note: The APA citation style requires double spacing within entries. [1] Unintended pregnancies cost the US federal and state governments $21 billion in 2010, the newest numbers available at the time of publication, with the average cost-per-birth being $12,770 for prenatal care, labor and delivery, postpartum care, and 12 months of infant care ($20,716 for 60 months). These plastic pouches have flexible rings at each end. Typical use of the Pill results in nine unintended pregnancies out of 100 women after one year of use and increases steadily to 61 unintended pregnancies out of 100 after ten years of typical use. Opponents say making the Pill over-the-counter would raise the cost of contraception for women, pose a danger to teens’ and women’s health by removing the doctor’s visit requirement, and limit what options are made available. The pill can also be taken to help reduce heavy menstrual periods, treat the symptoms of acne, and ease specific reproductive system issues. Typical use of the Pill results in nine unintended pregnancies per 100 women after one year and increases steadily to 61 unintended pregnancies per 100 women after 10 years of typical use. Birth control pills do have serious and sometimes fatal contraindications, meaning not every woman should take them. Retrieved from https://birth-control.procon.org/, ProCon.org. Condoms are also one of the few birth control methods that can help protect against sexually transmitted infections. [3] The National Latina Institute of Reproductive Health stated: “over-the-counter access will greatly reduce the systemic barriers, like poverty, immigration status and language, that currently prevent Latinas from regularly accessing birth control and results in higher rates of unintended pregnancy.” [14], Other medically underserved communities, such as LGBT+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and others) people, are more than twice as likely to be uninsured (15% of all LGBT+ compared to 7% of non-LGBT+ people) and more likely to face discrimination in the healthcare industry, resulting in less or no reproductive healthcare. Over-the-counter birth control methods are reliable, effective, and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Mandatory National Service – Should the United States Have Mandatory National Service? Several states including California, Maryland, Tennessee, and Washington allow birth control without a prescription. In general, prices for over-the-counter birth control methods can vary from store to store, but usually, they only differ by a couple of dollars. These OTC contraceptives contain a chemical spermicide (usually nonoxynol-9) that will immobilize and kill sperm. The female condom collects semen and prevents sperm from entering your body. To be extra safe, buy emergency contraception ahead of time, just in case birth control failure happens or you forget to use birth control. [25], Research supports these women’s conclusions, because state laws that allowed early access to the Pill (17 or 18 years old, instead of 21) are linked to higher women’s college graduation and employment rates, increased earning power, narrowed gender pay gap, and longer lasting marriages. Lawmakers cannot change the status of a drug from prescription to OTC. They’re both worthwhile goals, but one should not be held hostage to the other.” [31], Women can sort out for themselves whether hormonal birth control is right for them. After the drug became OTC, the cost increased to $50 for the brand name and $41 for the generic. Condoms. The examination generally includes a pap smear (the test for cervical cancer that may be combined with HPV screening), a breast exam, and pelvic exam that, among other things, screens for ovarian cancer and STIs. 11-21% of sexually active low-income women studied were more likely to use the Pill if it were available OTC. What You Should Know When Buying Plan B One-Step, Surgical and Non-Surgical Contraceptive Options for Overweight Women, Birth Control Pills and High Blood Pressure, Must Know Tips About Where to Get the Morning-After Pill, What to Consider When Choosing Birth Control. [66] A study found that 68% of women would use birth control if it were available via a pharmacist and 63% agreed the pharmacist consultation was an important step. How to Get Over-The-Counter Birth Control Ibis Reproductive Health, a nonprofit organization working to improve women’s reproductive autonomy, announced last month that it is partnering with HRA Pharma, a European pharmaceutical company, to help make a birth control pill available over-the-counter. If you prefer to stick with over-the-counter options, it might be a good idea to use a combination of these methods, so that for example you use spermicide or the sponge with a condom and keep some emergency contraception on hand for backup. Condoms are everywhere—just ask Condom Finder. The FDA approved Enovid, the birth control pill on May 9, 1960 for contraceptive use, making it the first FDA-approved contraceptive drug and the first FDA-approved drug that does not treat an illness. Over-the-counter birth control would reduce unintended pregnancies, save money For some women, going to a healthcare provider to obtain a prescription stands in the way of using birth control. Obstet Gynecol. The use of birth control pills to prevent pregnancy is a mode favored by many women. Medical Marijuana – Should Marijuana Be a Medical Option? Making birth control OTC will make the price go down, because the consumer is less able to bear high prices than insurance companies Echospinner April.4.2019 at 1:48 am Anita Sadaty, MD, is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist at North Shore University Hospital and founder of Redefining Health Medical. ProCon.org. 2016;113(1-02):11–22. Morning-after pill brands available over-the-counter: Sign up for our Health Tip of the Day newsletter, and receive daily tips that will help you live your healthiest life. Oncotarget. As of now, the only available over-the-counter birth control pills are for emergency contraception. This could also be the opportunity to try a new OTC birth control product or brand. Animal Testing – Should Animals Be Used for Scientific or Commercial Testing? Experts agree that over-the-counter birth control pills would generally be safe, with the benefits outweighing the possible risks. Condoms can be made of latex, polyurethane (plastic), natural membrane (lambskin), or polyisoprene (non-latex natural rubber). Our review strongly suggests that giving teens easier access to various contraceptives will not lead to more sex but would result in fewer unwanted pregnancies… [and] any future over-the-counter pill has the potential to benefit teens.” [21], In a survey of women seeking abortions, 72% said they were pregnant because they could not get the contraception they needed, and 32% reported an institutional reason such as the prescription requirement. [49], Robin Marty, health writer, noted that because the more effective options “would require a doctor’s visit and the Pill would just require a trip to the store, women may be inclined to use less effective contraception for the sake of convenience.” [50], The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists stated, “adolescents need special attention at every visit for contraceptive services, including comprehensive counseling about sexuality, sexually transmitted disease and emergency contraception.” [51]. But that really hasn’t happened, and I don’t see a sign that it will.” [48], The birth control pill is not the most effective form of birth control. Birth control is just as safe, if not safer, than many over-the-counter medications, and reproductive health advocates have argued for years that it should be available over-the-counter as well. . Some teens may mistakenly believe that they are at a lower risk of pregnancy just because they have access to OTC birth control, even though they may be taking it incorrectly. It is … California, Maryland, and DC even allow 12-month supplies to be dispensed at once, which has been found to reduce unintended pregnancies by 30% and the odds of an abortion by 46%. Spermicides and vaginal sponges are two over-the-counter birth control methods used during sex to prevent pregnancy. You insert the ring at the closed end of the female condom deep into your vagina (like a diaphragm). The new legislation would ensure that the FDA approves “without delay” birth control pills to be sold over the counter and require that such pills be covered by insurance without cost-sharing, such as deductibles or copays. For example: Just DO NOT use a female condom and a male condom at the same time. [60] [61], When the Pill is available by prescription only, a doctor usually requires a well woman exam every one or three years in order to obtain or maintain a birth control prescription. You need a doctor's prescription to get birth control pills (either progestin-only pills , combination pills , or extended cycle pills ). Additionally, these yearly exams are a good opportunity to check in with the doctor about general wellness and other preventative screenings. The Affordable Care Act does not require insurance companies to cover over-the-counter birth control like condoms, sponges and spermicide. [17] The Guttmacher Institute estimates that $15.5 billion dollars could have been saved if the unintended pregnancies had been prevented. Proponents say making the birth control pill available over-the-counter would lower teen pregnancy rates, provide contraceptive access to medically underserved women, and ease access to a health-improving drug with decades of safe use. Our goal is to provide information and updates about the movement to make a birth control pill available over the counter in the United States. 60% of American women use some sort of contraception. Should prescription drugs be advertised directly to consumers? ], [Editor’s Note: The MLA citation style requires double spacing within entries. The sponge also releases a spermicide that can kill sperm. Score.) Most over-the-counter contraception is considered to be barrier methods, meaning that these OTC birth control options work by blocking sperm from fertilizing an egg. Contraceptive efficacy, acceptability, and safety of C31G and nonoxynol-9 spermicidal gels: a randomized controlled trial. They collect semen before, during, and after ejaculation so they prevent sperm from entering the vagina. Over-the-counter means that they can be purchased without a prescription. Most over-the-counter contraception is considered to be barrier methods, meaning that these OTC birth control options work by blocking sperm from fertilizing an egg. After more than a decade of work, an over-the-counter birth control pill is a major step closer to becoming a reality in the United States. [38], Getting birth control by prescription has several associated costs that would be eliminated with OTC status, including co-pays for doctor’s visits and time taken off work to go to the doctor. [69] Some services deliver the birth control to the patient, eliminating the need to stop by a pharmacy. Covered by insurance. It covers the cervix (opening to the uterus) so it blocks sperm from entering. [24], A majority of American women–54%–agree that having access to birth control has health benefits. Should all Americans have the right (be entitled) to health care? [32] The Border Contraceptive Access Study found that women who got the Pill OTC from a pharmacy in Mexico were adequately self-screening for contraindications. Social Media – Are Social Networking Sites Good for Our Society? 59% of sexually active teen girls would rather stop getting all reproductive health care services than have to tell their parents about their contraceptive use. In those states, a pharmacist is required to ask the patient a few questions, notes blood pressure and weight, and dispenses birth control from behind the pharmacy counter. Olivia Alperstein, Communications and Policy Associate at Congressional Progressive Caucus Center, stated “The concept of over-the-counter birth control ignores the grim reality that not all people can just go to a pharmacy and easily purchase birth control. [18] A study comparing Pill use between women who obtained Pills with a prescription from an El Paso, Texas, clinic and women who obtained Pills OTC from Mexico showed that the women who got Pills OTC were more likely to continuously use the medication. [52] This lack of knowledge, combined with increased sexual activity due to mistaken confidence in the inability to get pregnant, could lead to more teen pregnancies. The women were more cautious about contraindications (medical reasons not to take a drug) such as headaches, smoking, and potential pregnancy than their doctors were. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists endorsed over-the-counter birth control in 2012, arguing that it could improve access and … The sponge is a soft, round, barrier device that's about two inches in diameter. It's made of solid polyurethane foam, contains spermicide, and has a nylon loop attached to the bottom for removal. You may also be able to pay for the product online and then pick it up at the store. A thin, matchstick-sized rod that contains a progestin hormone. That’s why the early years of menstruation are exactly the wrong time to take hormonal birth control.” [79], © 2020 Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. Reproductive health researchers at UCSF created a statistical model supposing that over the counter birth control pills would be available at low or no cost to women. [62] That’s at least 1.5 million women [62] who could be self-diagnosing medical conditions in a drug store aisle without medical help. Effectiveness can be increased if you're using the method correctly, or if you combine over-the-counter birth control methods. Also, Next Choice (the generic 2 pill form of the old Plan B) can only be sold OTC if you are 17 years old or older—you need a prescription to buy Next Choice if you are under 17. Over-the-counter birth control wouldn’t be possible for methods that require insertion or administration by someone like a doctor, such as IUDs, the arm implant, and the birth control shot. However, not all morning-after pill brands can be bought OTC. Below are the proper citations for this page according to four style manuals (in alphabetical order): the Modern Language Association Style Manual (MLA), the Chicago Manual of Style (Chicago), the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA), and Kate Turabian's A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (Turabian). Interest in Over-the-Counter Access. [77], The FDA notes the side effects of the Pill include changes in sexual desire, bleeding between periods, sore breasts, headaches, and nausea. So if you want to buy over-the-counter birth control, you'll need a way to get to the store and money to pay. [48] Kelly Cleland, MPA, MPH, Research Specialist at Columbia University stated, “When the generics [of Plan B] were about to go onto the shelves I thought there might be a price war that would push the cost down. OTC Birth Control Pills. Several women’s health and equality groups advocate that birth control should be available OTC. [12] [13], Denicia Cadena, Policy Director for Young Women United in New Mexico, stated: “Our rural communities are most profoundly impacted by our state’s health care and provider shortages. Some face religious and social backlash for buying pills in full view of their pharmacist and people from their community… Some are young and under a certain state’s law can’t purchase birth control without a parent’s consent. What Is the Most Effective OTC Birth Control Method? “Over-the-counter hormonal birth control would be a step toward greater access to an essential component of women’s health care and give adolescents and … Thank you, {{form.email}}, for signing up. Making birth control available over the counter would also lower teen pregnancies. Most American women favor making the birth control pill accessible over the counter. Dtsch Arztebl Int. All hormonal birth control should be available over the counter, OB-GYN group says The recommendations include the patch, vaginal ring and injections, in addition to the pill. Since 1976, more than 90 drugs have switched from prescription to OTC status, including Sudafed (1976), Advil (1984), Rogaine (1996), … Most national chain stores, supermarkets, and pharmacies sell OTC birth control, though the options they each offer may vary. [38], Uninsured women may also save money by eliminating the insurance companies as middle-man. You can get them for free at all sorts of places including clinics and health centers. 17.1% of American women aged 15-44 use birth control pills compared to 8.8% of women worldwide using hormonal birth control pills. Many people may prefer to keep their contraceptive use between them and their doctors. Spermicide. It will then melt (except for contraceptive foam, which forms bubbles) to form a barrier against sperm. To be sure, making birth control pills available over the counter (OTC) would improve access for some groups of people by eliminating the barrier of having to see a doctor to get a prescription. Drugs that can interfere with birth control pills include the antibiotic rifampin, many anti-HIV drugs, some anti-fungal medications, some anti-seizure drugs, the stimulant modafinil, many drugs to treat epilepsy, some medications for bipolar disorder, and many herbal remedies including flaxseed and St. John’s wort. We strive for a pill that is low cost, covered by insurance, and available to women of all ages without a prescription. Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. [46], Stuart O. Schweitzer, PhD, UCLA Professor of Health Policy and Management, stated that OTC is “more expensive to consumers than a prescribed drug that’s covered by insurance.” [47], Before Plan B emergency contraception went OTC, the drug cost about $12 for the brand name and $5 for the generic for women using Medicaid. Prescription birth control methods like hormonal contraception tend to be more effective than over-the-counter birth control. When used by itself, spermicide is not as effective as other over-the-counter birth control methods. As a woman’s body changes so does her reaction to the pill. Female condoms are made from polyurethane. Wagenlehner FM, Brockmeyer NH, Discher T, Friese K, Wichelhaus TA. Keep in mind that over-the-counter birth control product selection will differ from store to store. Twenty million women live in “contraception deserts,” places with one clinic or fewer per 1,000 women who need government-funded birth control from programs such as Medicare. In this scenario, an additional 11 to 21 percent of low-income women would start using the pill, resulting in an estimated seven to 25 percent decrease in unintended pregnancies. [11] In underserved communities, women could more easily find a local drug store for medication. It contains the progestin levonorgestrel and should be taken within 72 hours (3 days) after unprotected sex or birth control failure—the sooner you take it, the better. [17], Only 5% of unintended pregnancies have happened while the woman used effective birth control consistently. However, Pap smears are now recommended every three years instead of every year, and only after a woman has turned 21. Accessed January 14, 2021. https://birth-control.procon.org/. The “morning-after pill,” better known as Plan B, is already available over the counter in America. [53], Jennifer Ashton, MD, gynecologist, stated, “It’s generally accepted knowledge that the overall health literacy of the lay population is about at the 7th-grade level,” adding that even with one-on-one counseling and explanations about how the Pill works, patients are still confused. It requires regular ovulation, and that can take a few years to become established. Last modified on November 15, 2018. 5. Read more background…, Between 9 and 10.6 million American women use the birth control pill. Since 1976, more than 90 drugs have switched from prescription to OTC status, including Sudafed (1976), Advil (1984), Rogaine (1996), Prilosec (2003), and Allegra (2011). An accessible, available over-the-counter birth control pill isn’t everything though! Plan B, the emergency contraception that uses the same active ingredient as the Pill, was made available over-the-counter in 2006. The morning-after pill consists of one pill and was approved by the FDA specifically for emergency contraception. Vanessa Cullins, MD, obstetrician-gynecologist, noted that there were over 40 brands of birth control pills and “not every formulation will go over the counter.” [73] By making a few choices available OTC, women are more likely to follow the path of least resistance and choose those available at a drug store rather than by prescription, even if it isn’t the right variety of birth control for them. [1] A study found that women who received a one-year supply of Pills were 30% less likely to have an unplanned pregnancy and 46% less likely to have an abortion. 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