The availability of contraception methods, particularly hormonal, is a significant challenge for many women in the world. In 2014, over 40% of women used oral contraception not only to prevent pregnancy but also to have other positive medical effects (Schrager et al. 937). In particular, hormonal birth control pills are also used to prevent the development of cancer, especially for endometrial and ovarian types (Schrager et al. 938). Additionally, although many doctors discourage hormonal contraception due to the increased risk of breast cancer, studies do not find a negative correlation (Schrager et al. 938). Thus, for many women with a predisposition to various cancers, access to birth control is a vital aspect.
The problem of access to birth control affects to a greater extent the quality of life of women since various disorders are often accompanied by pain. These diseases include endometriosis and uterine fibroids, which are treated with estrogen and progestin-only contraceptive pills (Schrager et al. 939). Hormonal birth control also helps to normalize menstruation in women who suffer from heavy bleeding during this period. This problem affects about 30% of women, which makes access to birth control necessary for them (Schrager et al. 939). Hormonal contraceptives are also used for general medical conditions, including migraines and acne, which also directly affect the quality of life of patients. Therefore, “the availability of contraceptive methods containing estrogens and progestins are key to providing high-quality, evidence-based general health care to women” (Schrager et al. 941). However, many have difficulty accessing either directly to birth control pills or prescribing and renewing a prescription.
In addition to being used in caring for women’s health and providing quality medical services, birth control plays an important role for adolescents. Hadley notes that “improved use of effective contraception has the biggest impact on reducing teenage pregnancy rates” (103). An unplanned pregnancy is often stressful and a turning point for many young people, making access to birth control essential. Particular attention should be paid to the dissemination of methods of barrier contraception among adolescents, as they help prevent the spread of various diseases. However, young people often face difficulties in accessing birth control, which is a significant issue.
The range of challenges that adolescents identify with regard to contraceptive methods availability includes several factors. First and foremost, young people experience financial barriers to getting a hormone pill prescription. Despite the fact that their cost is often covered by insurance, the doctor’s appointment must still be paid (Wilkinson et al. 253). In the case of barrier contraception, there is a similar problem, as free access to it in schools and colleges is limited. Another significant obstacle is confidentiality concerns when visiting a doctor for prescribing contraception for adolescents (Wilkinson et al. 253). In particular, for young people, the defining aspect is “autonomy to make contraceptive decisions” (Wilkinson et al. 254). The involvement of parents in the process of purchasing contraception appears to be a barrier to access for adolescents.
These aspects generally reduce the education of young people about available birth control methods and have a negative impact on the number of unplanned pregnancies. These concerns encourage people to advocate for the availability of hormonal contraception along with barrier methods with pharmacists without the need to visit healthcare providers. Additionally, online channels for easy prescribing and accessing birth control are being developed. However, such methods of obtaining contraception pose a safety risk for patients who often do not consult with doctors about possible side effects.
While easier access to contraception is one of the factors that positively affect the quality of life for many people, there are also some concerns. In particular, possible negative aspects may arise with regard to hormonal birth control methods, which are the least available at present. The selection and recommendation of the appropriate hormonal pills are made by the physician and cannot be obtained from pharmacists without a prescription. In this case, such a situation is justified since easier access to contraception entails a number of risks to the health of patients.
Birth control pills are selected based on the characteristics of the female body and can affect them in different ways. In particular, oral hormonal contraceptive “use during adulthood elicits significant behavioral and neurophysiological changes” (Sharma et al. 1). In addition to certain changes in brain structures, as well as in the functions of memory, birth control pills can influence the development of stress-related disorders, in particular depression (Sharma et al. 1). Medical specialists are able to identify the risks, as well as select the method that is most suitable for a particular patient. At the same time, many are faced with a long and expensive diagnostic procedure to obtain a prescription.
Easier access to oral contraceptive methods can present a threat to the health of many women, especially older women. The current need for a visit to a specialist for the prescription of a certain medication and constant monitoring of the patient’s condition allows the emerging changes to be identified in time. In contrast, when women are able to purchase the hormonal contraceptives they need from pharmacists independently, they may not notice the negative consequences of taking them. Currently, online platforms are being developed that allow women to choose a method of contraception and get a prescription for it (Zuniga et al. 323). Women note that barriers to access to oral contraceptives include the inability to pay for a visit, lack of time, or inconvenient access to medical specialists (Zuniga et al. 322). Such difficulties make it popular to get consultation and access to birth control via a smartphone or computer. However, these easier and more affordable channels pose a threat to women’s health.
In particular, a consultation without a physician’s physical examination and diagnosis may lead to the prescription of the wrong drug that will harm the patient. For example, “one study among 1271 women of reproductive age in Texas found that 39% were contraindicated for oral contraceptive use” (Zuniga et al. 323). Contraindications for taking hormonal birth control can be serious, but women may simply not be aware of them or their present conditions. Additionally, the healthcare professional needs to observe the effect of contraceptives on the patient and notice the deterioration in time. In the context of online access, it is difficult to do this, and women may not be aware of the existing risks. Easier access to oral contraceptives can save women time and effort but can also lead to unwanted negative medical effects.
Undoubtedly, access to birth control should be as easy as possible for patients but at the same time limited by a medical framework. Barrier contraception is generally available because it does not require an individual prescription and does not pose significant health risks. However, in the case of hormonal pills, which more and more women choose, this approach cannot be justified. The consequences of improper use of such a method of contraception include many medical consequences that patients themselves cannot predict and analyze.
Birth control should be more accessible to all segments of the population. In the modern world, both barrier and oral methods of contraception perform not only the function of preventing unplanned pregnancy but also meet medical needs. In particular, easier access to barrier contraceptives helps protect society from the spread of certain diseases. This aspect is most relevant in the context of communities of young people who often do not have sufficient money or autonomy to acquire them. Hormonal contraceptives are the most important in this debate, as they cause the most concern. Despite the potential risks associated with taking birth control pills, many women choose them as their primary method of contraception. However, they face a number of difficulties in the form of the high costs of visits to the doctor or lack of time.
Removing barriers to the availability of contraceptives will allow more people to use them, and therefore maintain their health and standard of living. In particular, selling oral birth controls from pharmacists or prescribing via online communication will greatly facilitate access. It is impossible to completely exclude a visit to a medical specialist, but it is possible not to require a renewal of the prescription. Additionally, it is possible to provide benefits to low-income members of society by prescribing contraceptives. In case of detecting negative effects, a woman can also turn to a specialist for consultation. If people have additional barriers to accessing birth control, they will use other methods that can also harm their health. An unplanned pregnancy, in turn, can negatively affect a woman’s quality of life and mental health. Thus, the accessibility of different types of contraception, both barrier and hormonal, should be improved as much as possible.
Hadley, Alison. “Teenage Pregnancy: Strategies for Prevention.” Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Reproductive Health, vol. 28, no. 4, 2018, pp. 99-104. Web.
Sharma, Rupali et al. “Use of the Birth Control Pill Affects Stress Reactivity and Brain Structure and Function.” Hormones and Behavior, vol. 124, 2020, pp. 1-14. Web.
Schrager, Sarina et al. “Beyond Birth Control: Noncontraceptive Benefits of Hormonal Methods and Their Key Role in the General Medical Care of Women.” Journal of Women’s Health, vol. 29, no. 7, 2020, 937-943. Web.
Wilkinson, Tracey et al. “Older Teen Attitudes Toward Birth Control Access in Pharmacies: A Qualitative Study.” Contraception, vol. 97, no. 3, 2018, pp. 249-255. Web.
Zuniga, Carmela. “Breaking Down Barriers to Birth Control Access: An Assessment of Online Platforms Prescribing Birth Control in the USA.” Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, vol. 26, no. 6, 2019, pp. 322-331. Web.