Opill Is Here and It’s Over the Counter
September 12, 2023
Often, the process of getting a birth control pill involves scheduling, attending and paying for an appointment with a doctor, getting a prescription and then traveling to purchase it at a pharmacy. But soon, there will be another way to get the Pill…and it won’t involve a prescription.
Recently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Opill, a birth control pill, to be sold over the counter. They approved it without age restrictions, meaning it will be available to teens. But how does it work? And more importantly, how could it work for you?
A Progestin-only Pill
The Pill is a hormonal contraceptive. It prevents ovulation (when an ovary releases an egg) and thickens the cervical mucus, making it harder for sperm to get to an egg that has been released. There are two types of pills: combination pills (which contain the hormones estrogen and progestin) and progestin-only pills (also called a mini pill). Opill is a progestin-only pill.
Accessibility and Affordability
The plan is for Opill to be available starting in early 2024. The company behind it has said they are committed to making it affordable.
By being the first non-prescription oral contraceptive approved by the FDA, Opill removes long-standing medical barriers. For instance, people without insurance won’t have to worry about going to see a health care provider and paying for a visit to get a prescription.
Several states have already made hormonal contraceptives available with a pharmacist’s prescription (as opposed to a doctor’s prescription), some regardless of age. Opill is the first one that will be available across the U.S. without any prescription needed.
A Health Care Visit Still Matters
Accessibility is awesome, but it’s still a good idea to make an appointment with your health care provider as needed. Discussing contraceptive options, medical history and any concerns with a health care professional can help you make an educated choice about whether Opill—or any birth control pill—is right for you.
If you’re considering OPill for reasons other than preventing unintended pregnancy, like managing menstrual cramps, a health care provider can provide valuable resources and solutions.
The Pill is 99 percent effective with perfect use. “Perfect use” means taking your pill at around the same time every day. Because this doesn’t always happen, the effectiveness rate with “typical” use is closer to 93 percent.
Worried about forgetting? “Habit stacking” is a helpful tool you can use to make the Pill a part of your daily routine! For example, placing it next to your toothbrush, face wash or something else you already use every day at around the same time can make it easier to remember to take it.
Also important to remember is that the Pill doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs)—you’ll need a barrier form of contraception for that. This is where condoms come in; pairing a condom and the Pill is a great way to increase effectiveness and prevent STIs.
We’ve Come a Long Way
With federal pushbacks like the overturning of Roe v. Wade, it’s important that we celebrate this progress toward accessible and effective reproductive care!