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Reasons Why Birth Control Pill Should Be Available Over the Counter

Should the Pill Be Available Over the Counter?

Have you ever lost your birth control on vacation? Run out on a Sunday when the pharmacy is closed? Do you live in a rural area where it's difficult to access a doctor? Wouldn't it be nice if you could just run to any open store and buy it over the counter? In the pill's 50-year history, women have always needed doctor's permission to take it. Perhaps this barrier has limited the pill's influence.

The president of one reproductive nonprofit thinks freeing the pill from the pharmacy would help it live up to its potential. The pill already meets the FDA's over-the-counter criteria because you don't need a doctor's expertise to tell you you need it, there's no risk of addiction, and the side effects are less dangerous than other over-the-counter drugs. Just like they do with other over-the-counter drugs, women could screen themselves for any preexisting conditions that put them at higher risk of side effects. When you think about it, if the morning-after-pill is available over the counter, why not the birth control pill?

Well here are some reasons. It could drive up the price, making it less accessible to low-income women. And I'd imagine that it might give women less incentive to visit their gynecologists regularly. For example, once your one-year prescription expires, a doctor often requires a check-up, which can include cervical cancer and STI screenings, before it's renewed. And, of course, there will be some people who oppose greater access for moral or religious reasons.

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Join The Conversation
whats-her-name whats-her-name 7 years
I love my pill-- don't get me wrong. Not being pregnant is pretty great and all, but I'm so sick of frolicking on the merry-go-round with my pharmacist every month. Plus, living in a small town, I'm not so fond of having to yell out my prescription when there's a 96.7% chance that the person in line behind me is someone I know. Over the counter is long overdue.
danakscully64 danakscully64 7 years
I agree with kea718. There are a lot of side effects associated with The Pill, it's important to be monitored. A vast majority of people don't read the little safety inserts and directions in medication boxes. I truly believe that a lot of people would see the Pill as "safe" if it was suddenly OTC. It can be, but there are a lot of dangers too. Studies show that women in the age group who typically seek prescriptions for The Pill have less fatal cervical cancer cases because they're being seen more frequently and catch cancer early enough to cure it. This is why scientists believe older women have more serious cancer cases, because they're not as proactive about gyno visits. Ditto lesbian women. On the other end, I've had issues with my doctor prescribing medications and I've talked to others who have had to deal with the same thing. I'll be on one pill, have issues, so the doctor prescribes another... only to find out it's the EXACT same formula, just a different brand. Some doctors don't really know what they're prescribing or understand how it will affect the woman. When I told my doctor The Pill killed my sex drive, he acted surprised and said no other woman had really complained about that. Note: this doctor delivered me. He's not new, he's been a doctor for about 30 years. That ticked me off a bit. I'm sure most doctors aren't like that, but it makes things scary.
Pistil Pistil 7 years
Rise against the man, man! Always keeping women down with prescription drugs.
kea718 kea718 7 years
Oh, when I'm running out of refills all I have to do is call my Dr. and they contact my pharmacy so I have no trouble in that regard. I recently went out of the country and was due for a refill while I was going to be away... I had no problem getting my prescription filled about 2 weeks early (the only issue I could have had was with my insurance... but they ended up covering it).
kea718 kea718 7 years
At first thought I said YES... but then I took a second to think. Morally, I have no issue with the Pill being easily available. There are health risks involved with taking the Pill (blood clots, strokes, etc.) they may not be common but there's still some very negative POSSIBLE side effects. It's important for a Dr. to be able to monitor you while on the Pill. In some cases, Although you're not supposed to, there are women who smoke while on the Pill and that alone increasing your risk of blood clots. I know with my specific brand of birth control it can mess with potassium levels so I need to make sure I get my blood checked regularly. Some brands have lower estrogen than others and you don't necessarily know how your body will react to certain estrogen levels (I'm not a Dr. so I don't know about all that). A Dr. is able to match a specific brand of the Pill with your specific health needs. It's not like a "one pill fits all" medication.
Gemini2 Gemini2 7 years
If this was a men's issue it would be readily available in a vending machine. The fact that you have to get a yearly exam just to be entitled to pay the overinflated costs of the prescription is a racket. It is just a way for docs and gynos to keep getting their cut. There is really no more physical reason that you should have to be checked out before going on it than there is reason a guy should be checked out before wearing a condom. While we are on it, if guys had to have a mammogram on their unit, MRI's would be the way that things were examined. There is really no need to squish a boob like a pancake in this day and age to get an accurate exam result.
Pistil Pistil 7 years
I don't find an appointment once a year for a new prescription is really all that inconvenient. Unless it would compromise your health, I don't see why any doctor would say no. I don't see how that limits access.Until recently it was advised to get an exam once a year anyway.
socalbeachgal socalbeachgal 7 years
Part of me thinks it should be OTC so more woman have access to birth control but then again, there are so many brands with different side effects and insurance won't cover it as OTC. How about a hybrid category?
KeLynns KeLynns 7 years
I don't think it should be OTC. Yes that would be incredibly convenient for women who have been on the same brand for years and have talked to their Dr about it and have no problems, but there are SO many different kinds of pills, so many different side effects, and with many pills you need to know exactly how to take it (go in order, don't skip days, take it at the same time - not all the pills in the pack are the same!) that I just don't think it's safe to be OTC. We're not talking about tylenol, we're talking about fucking with your hormones. That's serious. Also, I've been on vacation and forgotten my pills, I just called my Dr and had the Rx called in to the nearest pharmacy and there were no problems. Also, if there is a schedule problem (like if there aren't any free appointments I can get to before my Rx runs out), my Dr has always been great about calling in another month or two for me so I can last until my appointment.
chequettex chequettex 7 years
I think it should be available OTC, because I have had trouble in the past getting a prescription due to insurance issues and dr's scheduling issues, not for health reasons. Since the pill is for people in good health as well as ill, I don't think I should have to see a doctor to get it. But of course I'm not a medical professional so I don't know all the "issues." That idea about the "first pack" being a prescription is a good idea, so the dr can explain how to use it, but after that, it's a hassle to have to make a dr visit to just to get the pills. They post all the warnings on so it's not like women aren't aware of the risks.
Yesi-Jukebox Yesi-Jukebox 7 years
It's not very difficult to get a prescription for birth control so I'm all for it staying that way. It would make it difficult to get it OTC because there are way too many brands and they aren't all the same. I like going to my doctor and having him help me with the decision, at least then I know I'm getting what is best for me. Also, it may be a little more difficult to regularly take my pills if I had to pay a high price for them, because obviously insurance wouldn't cover it.
Bettye-Wayne Bettye-Wayne 7 years
I'm not on the pill now, but if it was OTC only I don't think my insurance would cover it... I'm actually in favor of school nurses giving birth control and condoms, so of course I'm not opposed to this, but I think in general it's a better idea to get it at your yearly gyno appointment.
beautiful-disaster beautiful-disaster 7 years
i live in argentina. here the pill is over the counter. i think its supposed to be prescription only, but you can get ALMOST anything without a prescription here. i think the pill SHOULD be over the counter, but maybe the first box should come with a doctors "ok", if there is anyway to do that. I dont understand why the price would go up though.. because if it were over the counter then maybe more women would be buying it, therefore the company would be making more money no? as for the check ups.. i go once a year but because i make a point of going. others may not, whether or not they are on the pill which is a problem that needs to be adressed, but shouldn't be a deciding factor in making the pill over the counter.
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