Pharmacists are often asked by women if there is a birth control pill that they could buy over-the-counter (OTC) and when they are told that there is none, the same women often question why that is so. One of the primary reasons why women seek an OTC birth control pill is because of the ease of access and convenience. Since these drugs are not available OTC, a large number of these women turn to platforms like Nurx, which make high-quality health care more accessible and affordable for women.
OTC Birth Control Pill — The Pros and Cons
There are more than 100 countries around the globe that offer contraception over the counter. But the U.S. is not one of them. In the U.S., women who want to use use the birth control pill must first see a physician and then get a prescription before they can buy these pills. This applies to all types of birth control pills, whether they are combination pills, progestin-only pills, or extended cycle pills. The only exception is the emergency pill, which can be purchased over the counter.
Those who support the availability of the birth control pill over the counter do so because such easy access could potentially lower the rate of unplanned pregnancies. Also, an OTC birth control pill could reduce health care costs, as well as reduce the risk of negative outcomes for pregnant women and newborns.
Several women’s health and equality groups advocate that birth control should be available OTC. They believe that it is a woman’s right to have such access and that it would give them greater control over their sexual and reproductive health.
At the same time, there are those who believe that the birth control pill should remain a prescription drug. They argue that this promotes safety. While birth control pills have been used for several decades and are relatively safe, they do have the potential to cause adverse side effects in some women. By consulting a health care provider first before starting the pill, women who might not be eligible for the pill can be identified.
Also, many women experience symptoms like acne, weight gain, depression, etc. when they start taking the pill. This usually happens during the initial period. Talking to a doctor may help women understand why this happens and why their body would eventually adjust to the drug.
Women who obtain birth control pills through a prescription also have a greater probability of following up with their doctor. But this would not be the case if the drug were easily available for all. It is important to keep in mind that some women may be at risk for breast cancer, cervical cancer, or may suffer from blood clots. In any case, consulting with a doctor is always a good idea before starting any drug. Birth control pills are no exception.
When you visit your health care provider, you will need to provide your medical history and let the physician know if you’re taking any other medication. The doctor will examine you and obtain your blood pressure. In some cases, the doctor may also perform a breast and pelvic exam. These measures are undertaken to ensure that the patient’s body would not react negatively to the drug. Even though the pill is commonly used by many women around the world, it is important to identify women who might not be good candidates for the birth control pill. This can only be done if the woman goes to the doctor to obtain a prescription.
It is thus evident that while an OTC birth control pill would improve access to birth control, keeping it a prescription drug is beneficial for women and increases their safety. As far as access is concerned, there are other options such as Nurx, an online platform that offers a variety of birth control options as well as easy access to health care providers.