First over-the-counter birth control pill approved by FDA

The FDA has approved the first over-the-counter birth control pill in the U.S. Before the monumental decision Thursday, oral contraceptives could only be obtained with a doctor’s prescription. 

The U.S. now joins a list of over 100 countries across the world where over-the-counter birth control is already available. 

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Birth control pill, Opill, is a hormone-based oral contraceptive that will be sold over the counter to women of all ages, starting early 2024.

Opill was first approved as a prescription medication 50 years ago in 1973.

Dr. Kjersti Aagaard is the Vice Chair of Research Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine. She said, "It's been used to control cycles for people who have painful periods including in young adolescents. For decades, we have a good safety profile. So, this is not a new medication. It is absolutely safe."

"The only folks we recommend really kind of have a conversation with their health care provider is people with breast cancer or a history of breast cancer themselves, not within the family, but themselves, and people with pretty active liver disease," Aagaard said. 

Aagaard adds that long-term use of the birth control pill does not have an effect on a woman's fertility, despite contrary belief.  


Houstonians celebrated the expanded access for women as the battle over reproductive rights continue. 

"That’s good for women in Texas, so we have more options. Our government right now is limiting a lot of our decisions regarding our bodies, so I think it’s great that we have that option now," said Faith Cortez. 

"I think any kind of birth control that someone can get is really important. Obviously, the Supreme Court has made it difficult. I mean, I’m not having to worry about having babies at this point, but I have a daughter," said Linda Goldstein. 

Experts say common side effects include headaches, dizziness, irregular bleeding and nausea. However, doctors say the Opill’s benefits outweigh the risks, especially for women in low-income communities. 

"There are approximately six million pregnancies in the U.S. every year, and about 50% of them are unintended. Those pregnancies have a higher risk of a poor maternal and infant outcome as far as delayed prenatal visits and increased risk of preterm labor. That's why it's so important that women have the option to have access to immediate contraception in order to prevent unintended pregnancy," said Dr. Kelli Burroughs, an Ob-Gyn with Memorial Hermann Hospital in Sugar Land. 

Burroughs recommends patients who take Opill to stay consistent with the daily dosage and stick with the pill for at least three months before deciding if it's right for your body. 

Authorities have not specified how much the birth control pill will cost. The pill’s maker has said they hope to make it affordable.