Should birth control pills be dispensed over the counter?

Andrea Mrozek in the Ottawa Citizen.

Excerpt:

Welcome to the world of Do It Yourself Doctoring. Recent reports indicate that the birth control pill may become available in the United States without a prescription. Proponents will claim this makes women’s lives healthier and easier. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The pill is not Tylenol or cough medication. Certainly it’s widely used. However, forever downplayed are the nasty and known side effects: There’s the risk of blood clots leading to stroke. There’s mood swings. There’s increased risk of cervical cancer, (alongside the highly touted effect of decreasing the risk of ovarian cancer). There’s a 44-per-cent increased risk of developing breast cancer for young women prior to having children, a finding published in the Mayo Clinic journal in 2006. Anecdotal evidence has some women feeling permanently nauseous, others get depressed. Still others say they lose, wait for the irony, the desire to have sex.

[…]Even some pro-choice women’s health advocates prefer to teach natural family planning (the symptothermal method) with the solid claim that it works with the same efficacy as oral contraceptives. The advantages are that it’s not a product you purchase and it works with a woman’s natural body rhythm. The disadvantages? It takes time to learn and teach, and pharmaceutical companies can’t make money on it.

These voices are hushed up in part because pharmaceutical companies have long tentacles, and in part because the pill remains the darling of old-school feminists. It is the great equalizer. On it, you can have sex anytime without ever getting pregnant, just like men do — or so we are told.

Read the rest, it’s very interesting.

3 thoughts on “Should birth control pills be dispensed over the counter?”

  1. About two months or so before our wedding, my wife went on the nuva ring, a form of hormonal birth control (we were married as virgins, but I guess they advise women to start on the pill a few months ahead of time).

    it was a disaster. She experienced severe depression. She was a different person. So no pill or ring or whatever for us.

    The thing about birth control in the west is that people act like if you don’t use the pill or something like it, that you will get pregnant automatically. Even if, as in our case, we decided to use condoms. I remember mentioning this to family members, and they would all joke about us having a honeymoon baby.

    Well guess what? We had our daughter precisely when we wanted to. We have, without using hormonal birth control, managed to not get pregnant since then (and yes, we still have marital relations). A little intelligence goes a long way in this regard.

    It’s like the pill has become this standard lifestyle thing that everyone MUST use, and you are some kind of freak if you don’t. And certainly having the pill over the counter is a terrible idea. Depression is the least of the side effects that it causes for some people.

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  2. Rob, I agree with you here. My girlfriends are often SHOCKED to learn that I do not take the pill, and my husband and I are still childless. I was on the pill, but after I began to experience symptoms of a neurological disorder, I was advised by 3 doctors to get off of it for a few months. Well, it turns out the pill wasn’t the cause. But after the doctors began listing a litany of ugly side effects from taking the pill, I decided to not go back on. Period. That was about a year ago.

    Although Wintery thinks I am a card carrying hippie, I’m not, lol. But I do think our bodies were designed to operate a certain wway and introducing excess hormones to change the way it works will of course have consequences. I would advise women to get all the facts about these hormonal medications, and also remember that unless they are used EXACTLY as prescribed, you might wind up unexpectedly expecting anyway. You can ask my sister. I have a gorgeous two year old niece now as proof, lol. :-)

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