Committee Opinion No 544: Over-the-counter access to oral contraceptives

Obstet Gynecol. 2012 Dec;120(6):1527-31. doi: 10.1097/


Unintended pregnancy remains a major public health problem in the United States. Access and cost issues are common reasons why women either do not use contraception or have gaps in use. A potential way to improve contraceptive access and use, and possibly decrease unintended pregnancy rates, is to allow over-the-counter access to oral contraceptives (OCs). Screening for cervical cancer or sexually transmitted infections is not medically required to provide hormonal contraception. Concerns include payment for pharmacist services, payment for over-the-counter OCs by insurers, and the possibility of pharmacists inappropriately refusing to provide OCs. Weighing the risks versus the benefits based on currently available data, OCs should be available over-the-counter. Women should self-screen for most contraindications to OCs using checklists.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Contraceptives, Oral* / adverse effects
  • Contraceptives, Oral* / economics
  • Contraindications
  • Family Planning Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Nonprescription Drugs* / adverse effects
  • Nonprescription Drugs* / economics
  • Patient Compliance
  • Risk
  • United States


  • Contraceptives, Oral
  • Nonprescription Drugs