On July 13, 2023, the FDA approved the first over-the-counter birth control called ‘Opill’. An increased availability of hormonal birth control without a prescription may increase access and remove the barriers that individuals can face in obtaining hormonal contraceptives. The only non-prescription methods of contraception are nonhormonal methods, such as condoms and other physical barrier methods.
Opill is a progestin birth control, containing the active ingredient norgestrel, which is indicated for the prevention of pregnancy. It is estimated that 6.1 million pregnancies are unintended every year in the United States. With the option of an over-the-counter birth control may reduce that number and reduce barriers in obtaining hormonal birth control from doctors, including the cost of travel and associated medical costs. This product will be available on pharmacy store shelves in late 2024.
The active ingredient in Opill is norgestrel, which is a progestin hormonal contraceptive, Progestins work by increasing cervical mucus and thinning the endometrial lining in order to prevent the chance of a pregnancy. Opill is to be taken every day, at the same time each day. Missing the time frame of your dose can cause the medication to be less effective and increase the chance of unwanted pregnancy. If taken as it should be, norgestrel is 98% effective in reducing the chance of unintended pregnancy.
If you miss a dose, or have vomited after taking your dose, then take as soon as you can and continue as scheduled. Additional protection is required for 48 hours if you do miss or lose a dose due to vomiting.
Side effects include: nausea, vomiting, irregular vaginal bleeding, breast tenderness, increased appetite, and headaches. Some medications may interact with Opill and decrease its efficacy, so it is important to discuss its use with a doctor or pharmacist. Opill will not help to protect against sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/ AIDS, so a secondary form of protection is highly recommended. They will also improve the chances of preventing unwanted pregnancy.
This blog was written by:
Claudia Kwasiborski , PharmD Candidate 2024