The debate over whether or not emergency contraception should be sold over-the-counter is raging. But what about your everyday B.C.? Sixty-two percent of women support over-the-counter access to birth control pills, according to a new nationally representative survey.
To examine the demand for hormonal contraception without a prescription, researchers surveyed 2,046 women across the country who were considered at risk of unintended pregnancyÃ¢â‚¬”meaning they had had sex with a man in the past year, werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t pregnant or trying to become pregnant, hadnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t delivered a baby in the last two months, werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t sterilized, and didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have a partner who was sterilized. Not only did 62.2 percent say theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re in favor of OTC birth control, but about 30 percent of the respondents who werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t currently using birth control or were on a less effective method (such as condoms alone) said they would likely start using birth control pills if they were offered OTC.
A big benefit that would result from birth control pills being sold OTC: easier, more convenient accessÃ¢â‚¬”which could potentially mean a decrease in the unintended pregnancy rate. No more jumping through hoops or missing half-days of work to get your Rx re-written.
On the other hand, concerns about OTC BC include fears that women who shouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be on birth control pills for health reasons would take themÃ¢â‚¬”like women who smoke or have a history of migraines. Another concern is that women wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t visit the gynecologist for pap smears or STI testing if they werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t also visiting for a pill scrip.
That being said, in a committee opinion released last November, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) threw their support behind the push for OTC oral contraceptives, writing, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Weighing the risks versus the benefits based on currently available data, OCs should be available over-the-counter.Ã¢â‚¬Â
And now, from this nationally representative survey, we know that the majority of women support birth control pills hitting store shelves, too. But if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re part of that majority, donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t expect rollouts in the near future: Ã¢â‚¬Å“ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a lot that needs to happen in order for birth control pills to go over the counter,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Eve Espey, MD, MPH, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of New Mexico and chair of ACOGÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Committee on Health Care for Underserved Women. A pharmaceutical company would have to sign on, pills would have to be studied in an OTC setting, and the FDA would have to approve the move, says Espey.
TELL US: Are you for or against over-the-counter birth control pills? Would you get refills forÃ¢â‚¬”or get started onÃ¢â‚¬”the pill that way if it were an option? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
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