In July 2023, the FDA approved an over-the-counter (OTC) birth control pill called Opill® (norgestrel). This new pill adds another option for women to protect themselves against pregnancy, and it is the first OTC birth control pill that has been approved by the FDA.
Opill is a progesterone hormone-only pill, otherwise known as a “mini pill” because it does not also contain estrogen. Its main action is to thicken the cervical mucus to prevent pregnancy. It may or may not help regulate or suppress periods.
For Opill to be the most effective, you need to take it at the same time every day. You can use your smartphone to set an alarm or take the pill when you do a certain task every day, such as when you are getting ready for bed. If you take Opill three or more hours late, read the package instructions for how to proceed with the missed and subsequent doses.
Taking Opill is safer than having an unplanned pregnancy. Unplanned pregnancies can be linked to poor health outcomes, such as not receiving adequate prenatal care, a higher likelihood of premature birth, poor developmental outcomes for the child and more. Opill is a good option for women who can’t make it to a doctor’s appointment to get a prescription for birth control or women who may need it more quickly.
Opill is typically safe for most people who could become pregnant, including those who have high blood pressure and migraines. It should not be used in patients with breast cancer, or who are taking certain anti-seizure or HIV treatment medications. Opill does not protect against HIV or other sexually-transmitted infections (STIs).
Opill should not be used with emergency contraception, with other types of birth control or if you think you are pregnant. Talk to your doctor about the potential side effects, which may include:
- Stomach pain
- Increased appetite
- Abnormal bleeding
Opill is just one of many birth control options. Talk to your doctor or OB/GYN about all your birth control options to ensure you are using the best option for you.