OTC OC Follow Up

Teen and Birth Control PillsLast month I wrote a blog about how oral contraceptives (OC’s) might be sold as over-the-counter (“OTC”) medications without a doctor’s prescription. A few days later The New York Times published an article about this topic and the use of emergency contraceptives. The article addressed different concerns that teens have when talking to their health care providers about their sexual behaviors and the use of emergency contraception.

As I mentioned in my previous blog, many people don’t know that emergency contraception (EC) exists (I also believe this stems from lack of education). Just because a provider knows that EC is available, it doesn’t necessarily mean a teen or parent is aware. If new guidelines get passed and teens are able to receive OC’s without the consent of a doctor, then how will they be taught how to use the method correctly? What if they have other questions? I feel that sex education is vital as children transition into teenagers and young adults. If they receive trustworthy information from their health care provider, it may encourage them to be proactive.

Despite its existence, I feel emergency contraception should not be used like regular birth control pills. EC’s are more powerful and used specifically if a condom has not been used while having sex, the condom breaks, etc. The use of OCs also does not prevent the spread of STI’s and that is another piece of education that medical providers need to make teens aware of. Keeping yourself safe from infection or disease should be your first priority in any sexual relationship, so educate yourself as best you can to protect yourself and those you love.