In July, the FDA approved an over-the-counter birth control, the first of its kind. The move created a beacon of light in what is considered a war over women’s reproductive rights.
The birth control is called the Opill. Although its approval to be over the counter is new, the pill has been available by prescription for the past 50 years. Medical groups like the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have been pushing for years for an over-the-counter birth control pill.
“This is a monumental decision,” Dr. Melissa Simon, a professor of clinical gynecology at Northwestern University, said in a release. “OTC birth control is available in over 100 countries, so we’ve been behind in availing safe, effective methods such as this oral contraceptive pill to individuals who are trying to avoid pregnancy.”
The pill is expected to be available as a non-prescription medication in 2024. It will give many people safe and effective access to oral contraception, but is it right for you? 21Ninety reached out to Dr. Daniel Roshan, NYC high-risk maternal-fetal OBGYN to break down who should consider trying Opill.
Choosing the Best Birth Control For You
When it comes to the over-the-counter pill, it is very important to keep in mind that it does not function entirely the same way a prescription pill would. Therefore, it will have different effects on the body.
“The over-the-counter birth control pill is a progesterone-only pill, and the other prescribed birth control pills are combinations of estrogen and progesterone,” Dr. Roshan explained. “They could regulate the cycle according to the dose and strength of the hormones they contain.”
He goes on to clarify that the Opill skips the side effects of estrogen, which increases the risks for blood clots and high blood pressure. Many people start birth control in order to help regulate their periods as well, which Dr. Roshan says won’t be the case with the over-the-counter pill. In fact, it may even cause an irregular cycle or spotting.
When it comes to people who may be considering switching from their doctor prescribed birth control to an over-the-counter option, Dr. Roshan advises against that. He says that if a pill works, then there shouldn’t be a need to change it.
“Over-the-counter pill is mostly to make it easier for people without insurance to have access to birth control,” he concludes. “It should not replace seeing a doctor and being properly counseled on all options and side effects.”