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Pros & Cons to Selling Birth Control Over-the-Counter
Written by Whitney Wetzel
Last updated on November 26, 2012 @ 7:33PM
Created on November 26, 2012 @ 5:22PM

In the near future, women may be able to buy contraception right alongside aspirin and band aids. That's if a recommendation from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists gets approved. If it does, they're hoping the number of unplanned pregnancies in the U.S. will go down. While that might sound like a good idea, there are a few catches.

About 50 percent of all pregnancies are unplanned. A rate that hasn't changed much in the last 20 years. But could providing over-the-counter contraception help decrease that number? Some doctors said it may not be the solution.

"One must be careful to think that increased sales from over-the-counter availability will lead to increased prevention in pregnancies. It may lead to an increase in pregnancies," said Dr. Mark Povroznik, UHC Chief Quality Officer.

Dr. Povroznik said that's because people may assume that all women know when and how to take birth control correctly. But, that's not always the case. Right now, women who use birth control must visit their OB/GYN yearly in order to maintain their prescription. That allows their doctor to take one important step.

"Supervision of the physician, whose assessed for risk of stroke and risk of blood clots, who has counseled against smoking cessation and other side effects to watch for, as well as supervision of the pharmacist when filling that prescription, looking for drug-drug interactions," said Dr. Povroznik.

But doctors said providing contraception over-the-counter does have some perks.

"I'm going to leave the ethical, moral, and religious debates about contraception on the sidelines, so speaking as a professional, the advantages to ever having an over-the-counter product is ease of availability and potentially cost," said Dr. Povroznik.

That cost, however, could work both ways. For women whose insurance currently pays for their birth control, that may not be the case without a prescription. As for how these factors will play out, only time will tell.

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