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A Pill For Every Woman: The OTC Birth Control Revolution In The U.S.

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Conn chapter.

In an era where lifestyle and healthcare trends often intersect, a barrier-breaking contraceptive medication has been introduced, creating a reliable option for women without access to contraceptives. The release of the Opill, the first over-the-counter oral contraceptive pill in the United States, is not only a medical victory but an important milestone for women everywhere. This development is life-changing for young girls who aren’t given the appropriate contraceptive healthcare and women who aren’t able to access safe contraceptive options. The Opill is just the beginning of the OTC birth control revolution in the U.S. and is a groundbreaking resource for women everywhere.

According to Forbes Health, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Opill (norgestrel) in early July 2023. Opill is the first oral birth control offered OTC in the U.S. without a prescription. The company claims the pill is “more effective at preventing pregnancy than any other OTC method available.” Perrigo, Opill’s manufacturer, claims it will provide the medication at drug stores, convenience stores, and grocery stores in the family planning aisle. It will also be available in online stores. Not only will it be widely available, but it will be available without a prescription to anyone of reproductive age. This will benefit young girls without parental access to prescription medication and women in states with restrictive reproductive rights.

Along with any other vitamin, medication, or supplement, it is essential to understand the effects of Opill on your body before deciding whether it is a suitable option for you. The Opill varies from other oral birth control pills as it is a progestin-only contraceptive, meaning it does not contain estrogen. The oral contraceptive contains 0.075 milligrams of norgestrel (a hormone-containing progestin) and begins working 48 hours after consumption. The Opill website states that the pill thickens the cervical mucus to block sperm from getting to an egg. The pill is claimed to be 98% effective when used on a proper schedule, and the manufacturer firmly states that women cannot take the medication alongside any other oral contraceptives. Similar to other contraceptive options, Opill does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases, and a condom is still necessary to prevent any form of STDs.

This progestin-only pill claims to have many advantages, including a possible improvement of menstrual symptoms and a benefit for breastfeeding mothers as it does not impact milk production. On the contrary, taking a progestin-only pill has potential adverse side effects, including irregular periods, tender breasts, headaches, nausea or vomiting, acne, weight gain, and increased hair growth. 

The Opill is a milestone in the fight for appropriate birth control access and is heavily supported by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, according to Forbes Health. The organization has noted that the availability of the pill will aid in breaking barriers that lead to many unintended pregnancies due to a lack of access to contraceptives. The medication will also break barriers for those unable to see a doctor for regularly used contraceptive prescriptions for financial, social, and legal reasons.

Overall, the oral OTC contraceptive option is coming at the right time when accessible contraceptive options are in high demand. The Opill is hopefully just the beginning of a more significant OTC contraceptive revolution in the United States and a revolution that will not end until every woman has access to safe and reliable contraceptive options.

Charlotte F. Healy is a sophomore at the University of Connecticut and a double major in Human Rights and Journalism. Charlotte enjoys writing about current events, wellness, feminism, and sexual health. Charlotte is a member of Empowering Woman In Law, Uconn CHAARG, Students Helping Achieve Positive Esteem, and Revolution Against Rape. She also interned as a writer for the Dedham Times and as a press intern for the Brookline Police Department. Charlotte enjoys many hobbies in her free time such as poetry, hiking, yoga, coffee shops, and thrift shopping.