FDA approves Opill, the first OTC birth control pill

FDA approves Opill, the first OTC birth control pill

What is Opill?

This summer, the FDA approved Opill as a nonprescription, over-the-counter oral birth control pill. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists called it "a critically important advancement in the accessibility of reproductive health care."

"The greatest benefit of an OTC contraceptive is that women will have more options to control when they become pregnant," says Jayme B. Evans, DO, Ob/Gyn at ARC Medical Plaza Specialty. "More patients will now be empowered to choose when and where they obtain a safe method of contraception. We still recommend a consultation with your OB/Gyn before starting Opill."

Opill is expected to be on store shelves in early 2024.

What is the active ingredient in Opill?

Opill contains the hormone norgestrel and belongs to the class of medications known as progestins. Opill is a progestin-only birth control pill, unlike other combination birth control pills that contain both progesterone and estrogen. Because it doesn't have as much progestin as the combination pill and it lacks estrogen, a progestin-only birth control pill may produce fewer side effects.

The progestin-only pill may be a safer choice for:

  • Those older than 35
  • Smokers
  • People who have high blood pressure
  • People who are overweight
  • Those with a history of blood clots

How does Opill prevent pregnancy?

Opill thickens mucus in the cervix, and this change may keep sperm from reaching the egg. Opill also thins the lining of your uterus and may prevent the release of an egg from your ovary.

How effective is Opill?

Opill is already available with a prescription and has been approved for contraceptive use for half a century. "Opill is more than 90% effective at preventing pregnancies when taken as directed," says Dr. Evans, "Making it more effective than other over-the-counter options like condoms or spermicides."

"The caveat is that Opill must be taken every single day and at the same time, or the effectiveness is reduced, and pregnancy may occur," Dr. Evans adds.

Consult your Ob/Gyn provider before starting Opill

Before starting an oral contraceptive, even one that is sold OTC, you should first consult with your doctor to make sure that it is right for you. You can make an appointment online with an ARC Ob/Gyn with MyChart, or by calling the clinic most convenient for you.

Tags: Birth Control, Opill