From NAPNAP’s President:
The National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) joins other leading health care organizations in supporting over-the-counter access to oral contraceptives for pregnancy prevention without an age restriction. NAPNAP believes adolescents must have access to comprehensive, equitable, affordable, evidence-based, quality reproductive health care in accordance with the principles of reproductive justice.
Determining if and when to have children is a reproductive right available to all people in the U.S., including adolescents and young adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 75% of pregnancies among those aged 15-19 years are unintended. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health reported that requiring a prescription is a barrier to the use of oral contraceptives, especially for adolescents, and noted that easy access to oral contraceptives increased use without increasing sexual risky behaviors. Making oral contraceptives available over-the-counter would remove the prescription barrier and could decrease unintended pregnancy rates.
Although NAPNAP strongly urges adolescent and young adult patients to have annual health care well visits, we appreciate the benefit of allowing patients to opt for over-the-counter oral contraceptives. An over-the-counter option gives adolescent patients more flexibility regarding health care decision-making and confidentiality. As published in Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, researchers found that greater than 95% of study participants, some as young as 12 years old, understood key label information for over-the-counter oral contraceptives. Although it is not necessary for a patient to undergo a physical exam or lab tests to start oral contraceptives, NAPNAP recommends that each potential over-the-counter oral contraceptive user discuss any health concerns or possible side effects with their provider as needed.
Over-the-counter access to oral contraception is available in more than 100 countries and is used by millions of people across the world. Oral contraceptives have a long history of being used safely and effectively. Progestin-only oral contraceptives do not increase the risk of high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease, making them a good candidates for over-the-counter access.
As an evidence-based safe and effective means to prevent pregnancy, NAPNAP encourages the FDA to approve over-the-counter oral contraceptives to significantly increase equitable access for all patients.
May 9, 2023