Currently, women in the United States need a prescription from a healthcare provider to access hormonal birth control.
It may sound simple, but getting a prescription is one of the biggest barriers preventing many women from getting the medication they need.
It’s difficult for many people to find the time to schedule and travel to a doctor’s appointment, and often times, it’s too expensive, even with insurance.
Half of pregnancies in the United States are accidental, due to inconsistent birth control use or complete lack of birth control.
Aside from being a method of contraception, women also use the birth control pill to prevent or treat several different medical conditions, including heavy bleeding during menstruation, acne, ectopic pregnancy and iron- deficiency anemia, as well as for cancer prevention.
Making hormonal birth control available without a prescription has
the potential to increase the number of women using this method and reduce gaps in use, drastically reducing the rate of unintended pregnancy.
With over 100 other countries allowing women access to hormonal birth control without a physician’s prescription, many official health organizations argue that the United States is falling behind.
The argument to remove the prescription requirements for hormonal birth control has been a long one.
For over a decade, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has argued that women must have over the counter access to hormonal contraception.
The ACOG stated that many types of hormonal birth control, including oral contraceptive pills, vaginal rings, contraceptive patches and certain injections, are safe and should be readily available to women of any age.
Additionally, according to the ACOG female hormonal contraception is one of the safest drugs on the market.
Even safer than some of the drugs that are already readily available over the counter, such as aspirin, NSAIDs and acetaminophen.
“Birth control pills are some of the best-studied medicines on the market today, enjoy long-standing support from medical and public health experts and decades of research and experience show they are safe for over-the-counter use,” said Britt Wahlin, the vice president for Development and Public Affairs at Ibis Reproductive Health in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
In fact, the hormonal birth control pill already meets the requirements set by the American Food and Drug Administration for over-the-counter medication.
The drug is not addictive, the drug does not have a significant toxicity level if overdosed, users can safely administer the drug without consulting a clinician, users can self-diagnose conditions for appropriate use and users can take the drug as indicated without a clinician’s instructions.
Besides being incredibly safe for over-the-counter consumption, more women would actively use hormonal birth control options if they were readily available without a physician’s prescription.
A national survey conducted by Ibis Reproductive Health showed that 62 percent of women support over the counter birth control.
Additionally, the study showed that 30 percent of women who currently
do not use any method of birth control would use birth control if it were made available over the counter.
Furthermore, results showed that 37 percent of all women would prefer to use an over-the-counter hormonal birth control than one that was prescribed to them.
Moving a hormonal birth control option over the counter will reduce barriers to effective contraception and help women plan their families.
This has the potential to significantly reduce unintended pregnancy in the United States.
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