Birth control pills are fairly easy to get through health care providers (whether at a doctor’s office, health clinic, or through online medical providers), leading many people to wonder why they’re not available over-the-counter. At this point, a prescription is still needed for birth control pills in the U.S., although this may change in the future. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) as well as nonprofit groups like the Free the Pill campaign, advocate for making birth control pills available over-the-counter.
Making the pill available without a prescription may lower rates of unwanted pregnancies and make it easier and more convenient to get birth control. However, until the FDA makes a change, you still need to go through a health care provider to get your prescription. Since hormonal birth control methods can pose health risks for certain women, such as those with certain types of cancer, liver disease, high blood pressure, and heart problems, health care providers will review these potential risk factors before prescribing the pill. Women who smoke more than 15 cigarettes a day and are 35 years are older may have additional risks when taking the pill as well.
Luckily, it’s easier than ever before to obtain birth control pills. Depending on where you live, you may be able to meet with a provider online to go through your medical history and receive a prescription immediately. You can choose from a number of top brands and have your pills shipped straight to your door. In the future, buying birth control may be a simple as picking up a bottle of aspirin, which would be an exciting breakthrough in the women’s health industry.