One of the most common questions that people ask is whether or not they can buy over-the-counter birth control pills. Although there are some great birth control options that you can buy over-the-counter, unfortunately, birth control pills are not one of them. As of now, the only available over-the-counter birth control pills are for emergency contraception.
How to Get Birth Control Pills
To get birth control pills (either progestin-only pills, combination pills, or extended cycle pills), you do need a doctor’s prescription.
In order to write this prescription, you will need to talk with your doctor about your medical history and get your blood pressure checked. Your doctor may require a pelvic exam and a breast exam, but this is not universal.
Why Aren’t There Over-The-Counter Birth Control Pills?
There is a lot of debate over this topic. Many women argue that menstruation and preventing pregnancy are not diseases. The birth control pill is not a dangerous medicine. Most of the pill’s side effects are not very serious. There isn’t a risk of addiction and they don’t give you a high.
This leads many to wonder if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is taking the best stance on this issue. By not allowing for over-the-counter birth control pills, is the government making it more difficult for women to get and use the pill? Also, by requiring medical exams in order to get the pill, it makes it harder for women who work Birth control without prescription long hours and are not able to take time off.
On the other hand, some doctors argue that if women could get over-the-counter birth control pills, they would never come in for their yearly wellness exams.
Guidelines for How to Get the Pill
General medical guidelines and research suggest that hormonal contraception (like the pill) can be safely prescribed just on the basis of obtaining a careful medical history and blood pressure measurement.
Breast and pelvic exams as well as pap smears and sexually transmitted disease screenings are important to have done as part of staying healthy. These are a necessary part of family planning and reproductive health care. Routine STD screenings are recommended because women who use birth control pills are less likely to also use condoms that protect against these infections. That being said, the information doctors get from these exams do not tell them if a woman can or cannot safely use birth control pills.