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What you need to know about Opill, the first over-the-counter birth control pill

Birth Control Pill
Posted at 4:36 PM, Mar 04, 2024

(WXYZ) — In today’s Health Alert, the first over-the-counter birth control pill in the US will soon be available for purchase. It’s called Opill and a one-month supply will run about $19.99 while a three-month supply will cost about $49.99.

Opill is what we call a "minipill." These minipills only contain one type of hormone, and that is progesterone. Their job is to make the cervical mucus thicker, stopping sperm from reaching and fertilizing an egg. Minipills are different from the more popular combination pills, which are often called “the pill.” Combination pills contain both progesterone and estrogen. They work by preventing women from ovulating, which means no egg is released.

Now, minipills are considered to be safe for most people. They do not increase the risk of blood clots, a potential concern with combination pills. However, combination pills are more effective at preventing pregnancy – about 99% effective when used correctly. Having said that, Opill is not that far behind at 98% effective, according to the manufacturer. It’s also important to take Opill at the same time every day for it to be that effective.

The FDA noted that the most common side effects of Opill include irregular bleeding, headaches, dizziness, nausea, increased appetite, abdominal pain, cramps or bloating.

As noted in the label information, some women may have a mild allergic reaction when taking Opill and might experience skin rash, itchiness and flushing. It’s not known how common this reaction may be.

  • Also, important to note is the minipill is not the best choice for women who:
  • currently have breast cancer or had it in the past
  • have specific liver diseases
  • experience unexplained uterine bleeding
  • or take certain medications for tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, or to manage seizures

In addition, please don’t combine Opill with other forms of hormonal birth control products like the contraceptive patch or implant, a contraceptive injection or intra-uterine device.
While Opill will soon hit shelves at major retailers and also be available online, in my opinion, I would still encourage women to talk to their doctor first. If not, it’s important to know your full medical history, what medications you’re taking, and review the label and instructions. And always seek medical attention if you experience serious side effects.