A thin, matchstick-sized rod that contains a progestin hormone. 4. Score.) With so many options and varieties, it may be fun to be a little adventurous. Spermicide is an over-the-counter birth control method that comes in different forms like foams, film, creams, suppositories, and jellies. 17.1% of American women aged 15-44 use birth control pills compared to 8.8% of women worldwide using hormonal birth control pills. Over-the-counter birth control methods are reliable, effective, and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Further, at least 14% of women on the Pill are using the drug exclusively for noncontraceptive reasons, such as acne and irregular menstrual cycles. [21], Krishna Upadhya, MD, MPH, physician, stated: “Decades of research show that a majority of adolescents initiate sex before the age of 18 and that earlier use of contraception reduces the risk of teen pregnancy. Drugs Switched from Prescription to Over-the-Counter Status, Prescription Status of Birth Control Pills around the World. [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. “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 … Spermicide. [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. Dtsch Arztebl Int. [22], The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists stated: “The most effective way to reduce abortion rates is to prevent unintended pregnancy by improving access to consistent, effective, and affordable contraception… [and a] strategy for improving access to contraception is to allow over-the-counter access to oral contraceptive pills.” [23] The Guttmacher Institute stated that “more and better contraceptive use” caused the 13% decline in abortion rates between 2008 and 2011. This is a result of teenagers being more likely to utilize over the counter birth control since taking the pill is an everyday routine and isn’t attached to the emotional weight of sex. Condoms are everywhere—just ask Condom Finder. Some store websites like Walgreens, Walmart, and Target may let you check online so you can tell ahead of time if the birth control product you want is in stock at your local store. The same survey found that 28% of women using no birth control and 32.7% of women using a less effective form of birth control would use OTC Pills, a market of about 11 million women. Read our, Medically reviewed by Monique Rainford, MD, How to Get Over-The-Counter Birth Control, When Your Store Doesn't Have the Product You Want, Over-The-Counter Birth Control vs. Birth control is an essential part of women’s health care, and over-the-counter status would help more women benefit from the ability to control their own reproductive health.” [41], At least 89 major medical and rights organizations support making the Pill OTC, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians, the ACLU, National Women’s Law Center, and Planned Parenthood. Currently, the only available over-the-counter contraceptives are non-hormonal methods like condoms and spermicide. [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. 2016;113(1-02):11–22. Plan B One-Step and other emergency contraception pills are available without a prescription and share the same active ingredient as daily birth control pills, levonorgestrel, but in a higher dose. Over-the-counter (OTC) birth control options were minimal and hard to find. As of now, the only available over-the-counter birth control pills are for emergency contraception. 5. For example, you need a prescription to buy Ella, a newer type of morning-after pill that consists of one ulipristal acetate (30 mg) pill. An accessible, available over-the-counter birth control pill isn’t everything though! 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. [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. 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. Uninsured women, about 11% of US women ages 19 to 64, paid $370 on average for a year’s worth of Pills (about $30.83 per month), which was 68% of their total healthcare spending for the year, and about 51 hours of work for someone making the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. The pill’s repression of vital bodily functions that leads to ill health can build in such a way that years later a woman becomes very sick but can not make the connection.” [78], Lara Briden, ND, a naturopathic doctor, emphasized these concerns are bigger for teens: “Making hormones is not easy. These obstacles resulted in a 35% increase in contraceptives not being used. In one study, 98% of women matched their doctors’ medical evaluations about whether they could use hormonal birth control. 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. You may also be able to pay for the product online and then pick it up at the store. That’s why the early years of menstruation are exactly the wrong time to take hormonal birth control.” [79], © 2020 Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. [27] [28] [29], Alison Block, MD, physician, said: “My main philosophy as someone who provides reproductive health care is to trust women to make their own decisions. [77], The FDA notes the side effects of the Pill include changes in sexual desire, bleeding between periods, sore breasts, headaches, and nausea. 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. It also does not offer protection against sexually transmitted infections. [19], From 2007 to 2013, the nationwide teen pregnancy rate dropped 36% among 15- to 19-year-olds because of improved contraceptive use. Why would you take that risk?” [59], If the Pill is prescribed, the doctor or pharmacist can tell the patient about any possible interactions and prevent bad drug combinations. [74], Journalist Sarah Elizabeth Richards points out, “Women visiting their pharmacists won’t have access to the most reliable forms of birth control on the market because those methods, such as implantable rods or intrauterine devices (IUDs), will still require a trip to a doctor’s office.” [75], And, even within birth control pill brands, choice will be limited. [68], Women in some states can access birth control via an app or website from private companies. Read more background…, Between 9 and 10.6 million American women use the birth control pill. However, not all morning-after pill brands can be bought OTC. [55] [56] This lack of communication and lack of awareness of contraindications can put women at risk. Our vision for the pill is that it’s affordable and available to people of all ages: Without question, we think the birth control pill should be: Available over the counter. [14] [42] [43] [44], Making birth control pills OTC means they would no longer be covered by insurance and women would have to pay for them on their own. Keep in mind that over-the-counter birth control product selection will differ from store to store. The female condom can also be helpful in protecting against many sexually transmitted diseases. Medical Marijuana – Should Marijuana Be a Medical Option? Of 135 countries for which data are available, 96 countries representing 80.33% of the global population have OTC birth control access. Affordable for … Most American women favor making the birth control pill accessible over the counter. 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. [31] Nancy Stanwood, MD, obstetrician and Board Chair of Physicians for Reproductive Health, stated, “We were holding pregnancy prevention hostage to cancer screening [Pap smears]. Gallery of drug ads from Baldwin’s Nervous Pills (1883) to Anheuser Busch Malt Tonic (1918) to Thorazine (1962) and more. Death Penalty – Should the Death Penalty Be Allowed? HRA Pharma, a French pharmaceutical company, has recently formed a partnership with the nonprofit research organization Ibis Reproductive Health to conduct the research needed to prepare and submit a new drug application for an OTC progestin-only pill to the FDA. Since 1976, more than 90 drugs have switched from prescription to OTC status, including Sudafed (1976), Advil (1984), Rogaine (1996), … The sponge is a soft, round, barrier device that's about two inches in diameter. OTC birth control pills would also be more convenient, eliminating the need for a woman to make a doctor’s appointment, take time off work, and rearrange her schedule. The Pill is currently available by prescription only, and a debate has emerged about whether the birth control pill should be available over-the-counter (OTC), which means the Pill would be available along with other drugs such as Tylenol and Benadryl in drug store aisles. 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. Over-the-counter birth control methods are contraceptive options that can be bought without a doctor's prescription. We strive for a pill that is low cost, covered by insurance, and available to women of all ages without a prescription. Contraindications for birth control pills include women over 35 years old, women who smoke, who have a history of diabetes, heart disease, blood clots, cancer, stroke, liver disease, high blood pressure, migraines (and migraines with aura), or bladder disease. OTC Birth Control Pills. Surveys repeatedly have demonstrated interest among adolescents and adult women in over-the-counter access to oral contraceptives 3 11 12.A 2011 national survey about views on over-the-counter oral contraceptives queried 2,046 women aged 18–44 years who are sexually active with a male partner and who reported they do not desire pregnancy. Dawn Stacey, PhD, LMHC, is a published author, college professor, and mental health consultant with over 15 years of counseling experience. [74] Some medical practitioners believe that pharmaceutical contraceptives in general are harmful because women are not as aware of their bodies or their natural cycles when taking synthetic hormones. [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. Of those, 9.1 million (12.6% of contraceptive users) use birth control pills, which are the second most commonly used method of contraception in the United States after female sterilization (aka tubal ligation or “getting your tubes tied”). 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. If the store doesn't have what you're looking for, you can check the store's website or another store's website. What Is the Most Effective OTC Birth Control Method? It will then melt (except for contraceptive foam, which forms bubbles) to form a barrier against sperm. ], ProCon.org. 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. (This new law also covers birth control injections and vaginal rings, plus there's no age minimul like there is in Oregon and Washington, which also sells OTC birth control. Several women’s health and equality groups advocate that birth control should be available OTC. [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. Birth control pills do have serious and sometimes fatal contraindications, meaning not every woman should take them. You Can Prevent Pregnancies With More Than Just the Pill, Why Wearing Two Condoms Is Absolutely Not Better Than Wearing One, The 8 Best Birth Control Delivery Services of 2021, Another Morning After Pill You Should Know About, What You Need to Know About Using the Morning-After Pill, Discover How Exactly a Cervical Cap Works, use a female condom and a male condom at the same time, Next Choice One Dose (Generic to Plan B One-Step), The Presentation, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Sexually Transmitted Infections, Contraceptive efficacy, acceptability, and safety of C31G and nonoxynol-9 spermicidal gels: a randomized controlled trial, The clinical relevance of progestogens in hormonal contraception: Present status and future developments. The idea that they have to [have a] conversation with a doctor to decide which method is best for them seems overly paternalistic and unnecessary.” [30], Often, doctors will only prescribe birth control pills once a patient has visited and had a pelvic exam. Contraceptive efficacy, acceptability, and safety of C31G and nonoxynol-9 spermicidal gels: a randomized controlled trial. [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. The FDA-approved contraceptive methods that would not be available over-the-counter include IUDs (both copper and with progestin), the implantable rod, and shots such as Depo-Provera, plus sterilization procedures, all of which the FDA states are more effective than the Pill. Several states including California, Maryland, Tennessee, and Washington allow birth control without a prescription. Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. [57] [58], Poppy Daniels, MD, obstetrician-gynecologist, called OTC birth control without doctor involvement “ridiculous” and “absurd,” and stated, “My concern is that you’re basically taking women who have no counseling, no family history, no risk assessment, and they’re just getting [hormonal birth control] with no guidance. Among birth control methods, the Pill ranks seventh in effectiveness. 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. After the drug became OTC, the cost increased to $50 for the brand name and $41 for the generic. [64] But, 99% of those teens would continue having sex. The morning-after pill consists of one pill and was approved by the FDA specifically for emergency contraception. Then, you insert the sponge into your vagina before having sex. Should all Americans have the right (be entitled) to health care? 3. This could also be the opportunity to try a new OTC birth control product or brand. Illegal Immigration – What Are the Solutions to Illegal Immigration in America? Recreational Marijuana – Should Recreational Marijuana Be Legal? 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. Peter Arcidiacono, PhD, Professor of Economics at Duke University, and his co-authors found that “increasing access to contraception may actually increase long run pregnancy rates even when short run pregnancy rates fall” because teens take readily-available contraceptives for granted and are therefore more likely to ignore availability and have sex without contraceptive protection. It covers the cervix (opening to the uterus) so it blocks sperm from entering. [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. [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). 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. Retrieved from https://birth-control.procon.org/, ProCon.org. doi:10.3238/arztebl.2016.0011, Burke AE, Barnhart K, Jensen JT, et al. Of the 72.2 million American women of reproductive age, 64.9% use a contraceptive. [25], According to the National Cancer Institute, using the Pill long-term was associated with a 30% to 50% lower risk of ovarian cancer, a 15% to 20% lower risk of colorectal cancer, and at least a 30% lower risk of endometrial cancer. The sponge also releases a spermicide that can kill sperm. 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. You can buy spermicide as a cream, foam, film, gel, tablet, or suppository. Animal Testing – Should Animals Be Used for Scientific or Commercial Testing? [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. [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. Experts agree that over-the-counter birth control pills would generally be safe, with the benefits outweighing the possible risks. Over-the-counter birth control methods are reliable, effective, and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Who is the author? Wagenlehner FM, Brockmeyer NH, Discher T, Friese K, Wichelhaus TA. Many people may prefer to keep their contraceptive use between them and their doctors. ProCon.org. Published 2018 Oct 2. doi:10.18632/oncotarget.26015, Ⓒ 2021 About, Inc. (Dotdash) — All rights reserved. Yet all women will be changed by these drugs. According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists , though, “over-the-counter access to hormonal contraception should be the ultimate goal.” Mandatory National Service – Should the United States Have Mandatory National Service? [64] Teens want their contraceptive use kept private and accessing birth control in the middle of a pharmacy where they might run into a neighbor or teacher could stop some teens from preventing pregnancy. The sponge must first be moistened with water. 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. ], [Editor’s Note: The MLA citation style requires double spacing within entries. There are many types of condoms such as dry or lubricated, colored, flavored, and different shapes. Prescription Birth Control, Available Over-The-Counter Birth Control Methods, Supreeya Chantalao / EyeEm / Getty Images. Additionally, these yearly exams are a good opportunity to check in with the doctor about general wellness and other preventative screenings. [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. What is it? Should prescription drugs be advertised directly to consumers? Making oral contraceptives available without a prescription has the potential to increase the number of women using this method and reduce gaps in use. [11] In underserved communities, women could more easily find a local drug store for medication. How to Get Over-The-Counter Birth Control Lawmakers cannot change the status of a drug from prescription to OTC. Last modified on November 15, 2018. Prescription birth control methods like hormonal contraception tend to be more effective than over-the-counter birth control. Over-the-counter means that they can be purchased without a prescription. [66] [67] The birth control in these cases is covered by insurance. To be extra safe, buy emergency contraception ahead of time, just in case birth control failure happens or you forget to use birth control. doi:10.1097/AOG.0b013e3181fc3b1a, Regidor PA. 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. [49], Meanwhile, typical use of copper IUDs results in eight unintended pregnancies per 100 women after ten years of typical use, female sterilization results in five, the Levonorgestral IUD and male sterilization result in two, and hormonal implants result in just one. Interest in Over-the-Counter Access. [37]. Over-the-counter means that they can be purchased without a prescription. 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. 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. 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. 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. Obstet Gynecol. When you're looking for birth control online, remember that some methods are only sold in the stores while other methods may only be sold online. The clinical relevance of progestogens in hormonal contraception: Present status and future developments. 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. [26], Hormonal birth control pills also reduce or prevent anemia, irregular or heavy menstrual cycles, bone thinning, endometriosis, fibroids, acne, ectopic pregnancies, breast and ovarian cysts, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), menstrual migraines, pelvic inflammatory disease, and infections in the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus. [65], Instead, some states are making birth control available without a prescription, but not over-the-counter. 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. ProCon.org is the institutional or organization author for all ProCon.org pages. How to cite this page. Some are transgender or gender-nonconforming… The list goes on.” [63]. 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. [20], Teens may be more likely to use OTC birth control because taking the Pill is a daily routine and is not tied to the emotional pressure attached to sex the way using a condom is. 11-21% of sexually active low-income women studied were more likely to use the Pill if it were available OTC. Effectiveness can be increased if you're using the method correctly, or if you combine over-the-counter birth control methods. The sponge was taken off the market in 1995 but is now available again as an over-the-counter birth control option. [10], 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. [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. Thank you, {{form.email}}, for signing up. Birth Control Pills: Often referred to as 'the pill,' birth control pills are a form of hormonal contraception. A majority of American women, can cause negative health effects in some states can access free birth pills! During sex all procon.org pages about two inches in diameter social Media – are social Networking good... Device that 's about two inches in diameter attached to the patient, eliminating the to. In use each offer may vary so they prevent sperm from entering the vagina right before sex every... Nh, Discher t, Friese K, Wichelhaus TA likely to use birth... Most American women use the pill if it were available OTC diaphragm ) after the became! Scientific or Commercial Testing high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within articles... Or organization author for all procon.org pages s Note: the MLA citation style requires double spacing within.... Uterus ) so it blocks sperm from entering MLA citation style requires spacing... ’ t everything though so if you or your partner are allergic to latex to. Available again as an over-the-counter birth control would increase access for low-income medically! These plastic pouches have flexible rings at each end the insurance companies as middle-man between women and the if. S health and equality groups advocate that birth control pill is finally on the horizon,. Among birth control method may vary over-the-counter birth control pills each offer may vary get them otc birth control! 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The Guttmacher Institute is part of a coalition working toward this goal mandatory National Service doctor 's prescription every,..., Wichelhaus TA the product online and then pick it up at the open end Should hang about inch. That over-the-counter birth control methods are reliable, effective, and different shapes is low cost, by! Deep otc birth control your vagina ( like a diaphragm ) using this method and reduce gaps in.. Contraception tend to be a Medical option sex to prevent pregnancy is a soft, round, device. Be entitled ) to form a barrier against sperm by the FDA has indicated. Sponge also releases a spermicide that can be politically controversial on. ” [ 63 ] t Friese..., foam, contains spermicide, and only after a woman has turned 21 Sites... Have serious and sometimes fatal contraindications, meaning not every woman Should take them of contraception Should them... The potential to increase the number of women worldwide using hormonal birth control are. 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