Can You Buy Hormonal Contraception At The Pharmacy? Prescription vs OTC Birth Control

Accessing Hormonal Contraception

Hormonal birth control is known to be safe and effective in preventing unwanted pregnancies. However, hormonal contraception such as birth control pills requires a prescription the majority of the time due to the contraindications. Currently, American physicians support access to over-the-counter (OTC) birth control pills without a prescription. But the approval by the FDA is yet to be determined.

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Benefits of OTC oral contraceptives

Making OTC birth control pills will be beneficial to many women in the long term. A recent study concluded that accessing OTC oral contraceptives leads to a higher rate of continuation despite the contraindications. Contraindications should not be taken lightly and women usually need to self-screen for contraindications. Having birth control pills available OTC is effective and reduces the risk of unwanted pregnancies. Also, having hormonal contraception available at the pharmacy decreases the travel time to the doctor thus, reducing costs.

Progestin-only pill

Although hormonal birth control methods are prescribed, there is one pill that may soon be available over the counter. Progestin-only pill, known as a mini pill is hormonal contraception that is considered safe and effective. This pill has not been approved yet but the chances are high due to having lower health risks.

Data supporting hormonal contraception

Not just oral contraceptives, but accessing other forms of hormonal contraception OTC has also received support from various healthcare professionals. These include contraceptive patches, vaginal rings, and injectable progestin. Data showed that women are more likely to continue the course of the contraceptive when bought OTC rather than prescribed. Additionally, data showed that self-administer injectable progestin can lead to continuous use, rather than missing appointments. However, self-administering is not currently available in the US.

The potential downside

Although healthcare providers are in support of accessing hormonal birth control OTC, there are a few concerns to consider. One concern is that when hormonal contraception will be made available OTC, there will be a decrease in routine screenings. Another concern for doctors is having fewer patient visits.

What about medical adverse events?

Although making OTC hormonal contraception accessible can become easy for women, there are some associated risks. However, these risks are very minimal. Data mentioned that progestin-only are safe, effective, and have a slight risk of venous thromboembolism. Also, the risk of venous thromboembolism in combined oral contraceptives is minimal compared to during and after a pregnancy period.

The bottom line

Currently, OTC hormonal contraception is not easily accessible and approval is yet to be made. OTC hormonal contraception is safe, promotes continuous use, and prevents unwanted pregnancies. OTC birth control pills and other methods can become easy for women to access with minimal risks. The importance of women self-screening before considering hormonal contraception is necessary.

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