Should Birth Control be Available Without a Prescription?

Currently there are dozens of different types of birth control. Each does something a little bit differently. Essentially birth control contains hormones that tell the body if it can or can’t prepare itself from Pregnancy. Birth control pills have been around for decades and are very effective in what they do.

But changes with birth control are on the horizon. The changes won’t have anything to do with the Progesterone or Estrogen that allows birth control to be effective. Rather it will have to do with the availability and accessibility of this medication.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists are recommending that birth control should be available as an over-the-counter (OTC) medication much like Prilosec, IBU, cough drops, and many more medications.

The primary reason for this is to make an effort to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies in the United States. Therefore, there is a medical reason for this and it is not just to help most women avoid seeing a doctor for such a prescription….or is it. This appears to be a debatable portion of this argument.

The data used to push for this change indicates that just more than half of all pregnancies are unplanned. This rate has been about the same for the last twenty five years. Women that are at risk the most – are in their twenties.

But this certainly isn’t the first time that this has been suggested. Back in the early 90’s, there were studies and journal articles that argued for allowing birth control to be OTC. But that was about as far as it went. Condoms and pregnancy kits are already OTC and this would be the next step.

Those who argue that birth control should still have a prescription argue that the side effects or risks shouldn’t be ignored. Birth control pills have several side effects or risks including Blood Clots, Stroke, weight gain, increased risk for certain cancers, Hypertension (or changes in High Blood Pressure), bone density changes, and others. These types of risks really do happen to women on birth control. It is something that needs to be considered.

The next concern or argument is for using the medication too much or overdosing. Of course, this can happen [and does] with many prescription medications as well. Overdosing of birth control could be dangerous – but it certainly isn’t as dangerous as some of the other prescription medications or even something like OTC Tylenol.

But overall, it appears that many doctors report that the benefit outweighs the risk. Many people in poverty, without insurance, language problems, or any other number of reasons would now have a better way to access birth control. Abortions and other unwanted pregnancies could be largely avoided.

Currently approval from FDA, pharmaceutical companies, and cost are the largest prohibitors of such a change. Some things that will need to be evaluated is age of the person buying the medication and legal ramifications need to be addressed.


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