Health

Majority Of Women Support Over-the-Counter Birth Control

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A new nationally-representative survey reveals that about two-thirds of women favor making contraceptive pills available over the counter.

It also found that 30 percent of women not using the pill would likely take it if it was sold without a prescription.

"Of course, it's a hypothetical question, and it remains to be seen how this would play out in reality," Dr. Daniel Grossman, of the University of California, San Francisco, said. "But it gives us some indication that making the Pill over the counter could help improve use of more effective contraception and help women use the method they'd like to use."

"There's mounting evidence that this is safe, this is effective and women really want it."

It comes just after news on Wednesday that the Food and Drug Administration would appeal a court order to make the morning after pill, Plan B, available over the counter for women of any age.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said last year that birth control pills should be made available over the counter.

The recent survey asked more than 2,000 women aged 18 to 44 if they would access over-the-counter birth control pills. None of the women were pregnant or trying to become pregnant and all had been sexually active with men in the past year.

A third of them said they were "strongly" or "somewhat" in favor of women being able to buy the Pill over the counter. 

"It shows that, just as I think physicians' attitudes seem to be changing over time, women's attitudes are also changing over time," Dr. Kavita Nanda said.

But Nanda said there are concerns that women will forego regular check-ups if they can get the Pill without a prescription.

She said even though people are concerned about it, studies have indicated that women are able to determine if the Pill is right for them by looking at a checklist.

For instance, the Pill is not recommended for those with uncontrolled high blood pressure, a history of breast cancer or blood clots.

"There was one piece that was missing from the research that had been done to date, and that was really documenting the demand for this among women," Grossman said. "Women are really interested in this."

"I see this issue, of moving the regular birth control pill over the counter, as the next big advance in improving access to effective contraception."

Sources: NY Daily News, Reuters