Birth control will be available over the counter in the US starting later this month — here’s what you need to know

The U.S. joins a handful of other countries in offering oral contraception over the counter.

Opill, over-the-counter birth control, Perrigo, reproductive health,
Drug manufacturer Perrigo announced Opill, an over-the-counter birth control, will arrive on shelves later this month. (Photo credit: Adobe Stock)

Soon, anyone of menstruating age who needs birth control will be able to grab it from the family planning aisle of their local drugstore without a prescription and for less than $50.

On Monday, the drug maker Perrigo announced that the FDA has approved its product Opill to become the first birth control pill available in stores and online without a prescription in the U.S. when it hits shelves later this month.

According to the release, the progestin-only daily oral contraceptive will be available in drug stores in multiple quantities, including one-month supplies for $19.99 and three-month supplies for $49.99 in stores, and up to six-month supplies for $89.99 online.

“The availability of an oral contraceptive without a prescription is a truly groundbreaking milestone in reproductive health,” Melissa Kottke, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Atlanta, said in the release.

She added, “Progestin-only pills have been a trusted contraceptive option for decades, yet obtaining a prescription for birth control pills creates unnecessary barriers for many. Creating additional opportunities for contraceptive access is critical in helping people reach their reproductive goals.”

Opill, like many forms of other birth control, is 98% effective when taken as directed, placing it among the most effective forms of birth control available. However, it is not without its risks. Birth control, in general, can come with risks, including the small chance of developing blood clots, especially when the method contains both estrogen and the synthetic hormone progestin. With Opill being progestin-only, the risk of developing blood clots is lower, thus potentially making it a safer option for those with that concern. The daily pill should take full effect 48 hours after the first dose. Any potential side effects could include cramping, headaches, and bloating. 

Perrigo officials clarify in the release that Opill is not an emergency contraceptive, like Plan B, and will not prevent pregnancy when used after unprotected sex.

Recommended Stories

When nearly half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned, and as more states move to ban vital reproductive health options, Opill hitting the shelves has the potential to impact reproductive health for many.  

Perrigo officials said in the release, “Those who face barriers to initiating use of effective methods and continuing consistent use once started can benefit the most from Opill.”

Despite Opill not requiring a prescription, those interested and with further questions should seek the advice of a medical professional. 

Never miss a beat: Get our daily stories straight to your inbox with theGrio’s newsletter.