The FDA just made birth control WAY more accessible for Americans
HUGE FREAKING NEWS. On Thursday July 13th, 2023, in a historic decision for healthcare, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first hormonal contraceptive pill to be sold over-the-counter across the US, without a prescription. This is monumental for expanding contraception access in the US.
Over-the-counter birth control pills are already available in over 100 countries around the world. It’s about time that America follows suit and provides this access, considering nearly half of the 6.1 million yearly pregnancies in the US here are unintentional.
Here’s what you need to know about Opill, the first over-the-counter birth control pill in the U.S.
‘Opill’ is a hormonal contraceptive pill that was first approved by the FDA as a prescription back in 1973. Opill is essentially the same as a daily prescription birth control pill, without the estrogen; instead, it contains only one hormone (progestin). Opill is commonly called the “mini-pill” because of its low hormone dosage.
With over-the-counter birth control, you will not be required to see a medical provider in order to buy and start using it. Any person, of any age, will be able to purchase it.
Patrizia Cavazzoni, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, explained: “Today's approval marks the first time a nonprescription daily oral contraceptive will be an available option for millions of people in the United States.” She shared that, when used as directed, [Opill] is safe and is expected to be more effective than currently available non-prescription contraceptive methods in preventing unintended pregnancy”.
More effective than condoms? Sign us up.
What are the side effects of the Opill?
Like any medication, Opill can have side effects, although they are usually mild and temporary. Opill was approved for over-the-counter distribution because the FDA has deemed it safe. However, everyone’s body is different. If you have concerns about taking Opill it is always best to chat with a healthcare professional.
The common side effects of Opill are also the same as prescription birth control pills. These symptoms often subside after a few months but some people experience:
- changes in their menstrual cycle
- breast tenderness
- mood swings
If you have concerns about side effects, consult your doctor for further guidance!
What is the current state of birth control in the U.S.?
Before Opill, barriers to birth control depended on the state that you lived in but included: costs, age, and education about the benefits and risks of birth control.
Once Opill is on the market…
- there will be NO age restriction
- it will be affordable and accessible to people who need it
- AND you can get Opill through online providers so there is NO location barrier
As for education, well, reproductive health advocates, organizations, and brands (like August & Stix) will be leading the charge in making sure that ANYONE who is in need of birth control can have the information that they need.
What is the significance of this FDA approval? Why is it important to have access to birth control?
In light of the (seemingly constant) news about bodily autonomy and reproductive rights being stripped away – specifically for those of us with a uterus – this is a win.
To put it frankly, over-the-counter birth control pills will save lives.
This has huge implications for teenagers and young people who have previously not been able to access or afford prescription birth control. Many young people want to take control of their sexual health, but are discouraged by doctors and parents from going on the birth control method. One of their main reasons is that it will increase the likelihood of teens engaging in sexual activity.
NEWS FLASH – approximately 40% of the teens aged 15-19 are already having sex. Among those, the most common contraceptive methods are condoms (which have only an 87% effective rate), withdrawal (which has a 78% effective rate), and the birth control pill which has a 93% effective rate when used typically. It seems obvious which contraception you would want to make accessible to our young Americans.
Where do I find Opill over-the-counter birth control pills?
As of today, there is limited information on the specifics of when and where Opill will officially be available to consumers.
It will likely be in select stores in December of 2023, and available through online providers in January of 2024.
The beauty of an over-the-counter birth control pill is that you can get it anywhere. The reason many birth control users end up missing a pill is because they cannot pick up their new prescription in time.
Companies like Stix will set up subscription offerings so you can set it and forget it, but if you ever run into a hiccup it will be easier than ever to access Opill at your local pharmacy or grocery store.
Rumor has it, Stix may be carrying Opill once it’s available in January 2024, and you can sign up for their waitlist to be first to know here 😉
We’re here for you 💜