Why is the BC pill still prescription?

You can get a prescription for it from Planned Parenthood without anything more than answering a few questions (cite), and I know that they’re not particularly unique - in my entirely anecdotal experience, most anyone who doesn’t have a big financial interest in subjecting you to a pelvic exam will cheerily write you a prescription for it*. From this, I’m assuming that it’s figured to be fairly safe. Og knows it’s been around for long enough to make it clear that it doesn’t turn you into a troll after twenty years or what have you.

So why do you still need a prescription at all? It seems to me like the worst thing that could happen to the overwhelming majority of women would be nuisance effects (breakthrough bleeding, weight gain) rather than anything seriously threatening. Has it ever been seriously proposed by any parties to make it available OTC?

*Again, totally anecdotal, but I’ve gathered that this is very common in free student-health clinics, where a pelvic exam would be either extremely low-cost or free.

There are many different kinds of birth control pills with different ratios of different hormones. It may take professional tests (and experimentation) to find one that’s right for you.

BCP is very safe and effective, but does carry a number of side effects that could be dangerous. Smokers especially are at high risk for stroke and thrombosis when taking the pill, and it’s sometimes dangerous for migraine sufferers to take. I had both high blood pressure and was previously diagnosed with migraines, so the last time I got my BCP prescription I had to be monitored the first three months. The monitoring consisted of weekly blood pressure checks and answering questions - stuff like whether I experienced any numbness or tingling, or my migraine incidences rose.

There are some things a woman needs a professional contact for up to and including reproductive tract problems and depressive suicide. They are powerful hormones that can have many powerful effects and at least the message needs to be that they should be taken seriously, the schedule that they should be taken, how the color codes work, and what needs to happen if there is a drastic problem that needs to be addressed if there is a serious problem. The prescriptive atmosphere makes most of that clear but the doctor or nurse that prescribes them can give invaluable knowledge.

As a college student, you should be aware that there are many women in the world that don’t function at nearly the same intellectual level as you or any other myth that land them an unanticipated child or health problems that they know nothing about. Given a large population, such problems WILL happen and others will question why BCP are not more heavily regulated for the ignorant masses to save them from their own ignorance and ideas Some women might fall prey to myths such as alternate dosage schedules or anything else. Birth control pills can be much more long-reaching than you realized and should be at least consulted by a medical professional even if they aren’t a problem for the vast majority of women.

There are plenty of seriously threatening side effects. Blood clots/thrombosis can be life threatening; my friend was hospitalized for it and had to drop a semester of classes. The pill is made up of synthetic human hormones and/or pseudohormones and that’s not something to be taken lightly, although it’s often completely unproblematic. I’m a bit peeved your doctor has assumed you’re aware of the more serious side effects.

There is an absolutely astounding array of ways people manage to screw up their pill-taking schedule, even with a professional consultation, extensive education, take-home fact sheets, and instructions in every pack. I shudder to think what they’d come up with if they could just pick them at random off the shelf.
Plus, getting the dose right can be a fiddly thing… not to mention the side effects that can, you know, kill you.

BCP is only available on prescription in Australia, but I buy it OTC here (in the Middle East). Lots of medications are available OTC here (eg. antibiotics) that you can only get with a script in Australia.

I think there’s a lot of scare-mongering that goes on in relation to some drugs which only serves to justify the higher prices people pay.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t see a doctor before you buy a BCP for the first time, but otherwise, if you find something that works, why should you have to go back to line the doctor’s pockets again and again?

I don’t doubt this, but you can still get all sorts of ‘dangerous’ stuff OTC. It seems to me like BC is really fairly benign with a real but very small risk of serious side effects - it is after all just a slightly elevated dose of something your body is already producing.

So there’s never been a big push in the US to make it available OTC?

This is sheer speculation, but perhaps the push for OTC birth control pills has been feeble is because if they were OTC, they wouldn’t be covered by medical insurance.

*See, e.g., * http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C05EEDB1E38F937A35754C0A9629C8B63