Dr. Daniel Grossman – from the University of California, San Francisco and the nonprofit Ibis Reproductive Health – led a study that found two-thirds of women polled in a nationally-representative survey were in favor of buying birth control pills over-the-counter in lieu of needing a prescription.
Researchers questioned over 2,000 women aged 18 to 44 about their attitudes regarding over-the-counter access to oral birth control pills. None of the women were pregnant or trying to become pregnant, and all had been sexually active with men in the past year.
Often patients will acquire an annual prescription for the pill as part of their regular cervical cancer screening process, physical, and STD testing. But nearly 30 percent of participants said they were “strongly” or “somewhat” in favor of women being able to buy birth control pills without a prescription, according to findings published in the journal Contraception.
Many respondents using methods of pregnancy prevention assessed as less effective in comparison indicated they would be more apt to take the pill if it were available OTC – as it would be more convenient, save money and time, and prevent more unintended pregnancies. Almost half of pregnancies in the US are unplanned, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The study findings are similar to that of an opinion statement released by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) back in December 2012.
One frequently cited concern regarding an over-the-counter provision of oral contraceptives is the potential harm that could result if women select an unsuitable pill – as not all are created with equal levels or types of hormones.
Smokers and individuals with a history of breast cancer, blood clots, high blood pressure, and other circulatory conditions could put themselves at risk for serious health conditions while taking the pill.
Critics feel women would also forgo regular check-ups. Still, the ACOG recommended the OTC availability of hormonal contraception after weighing the risks versus the benefits based on available data.
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