Reproductive Health| Volume 28, ISSUE 2, P144-151, March 2018

Interest in Over-the-Counter Access to a Progestin-Only Pill among Women in the United States

  • Kate Grindlay
    Correspondence to: Kate Grindlay, MSPH, Ibis Reproductive Health, 2067 Massachusetts Avenue, Suite 320, Cambridge, MA 02140. Phone: +1-617-349-0040; fax: +1-617-349-0041.
    Ibis Reproductive Health, Cambridge, Massachusetts
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  • Daniel Grossman
    Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, University of California, San Francisco, Oakland, California
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Published:January 29, 2018DOI:



      A progestin-only pill may be the first pill formulation to become available over the counter in the United States; however, no research on over-the-counter (OTC) pill interest has focused on progestin-only pills or a representative sample of teens. The objective of this study was to assess U.S. women and teens’ interest in OTC progestin-only pill use.


      In October 2015, we conducted a nationally representative, cross-sectional, online survey with 2,026 sexually active adult women aged 18 to 44 not currently desiring pregnancy, and 513 female teens aged 15 to 17. Logistic regression was used to identify characteristics associated with likely OTC progestin-only pill use. We also assessed reasons for use or nonuse, duration of use, and willingness to pay.


      Thirty-nine percent of adults and 29% of teens reported likely use, with a greater likelihood if covered by insurance. Adults were willing to pay $15 per month and teens $10 per month on average. Among adults, women who were never married or living alone (vs. married), uninsured (vs. privately insured), current pill or less effective method users (vs. ring, patch, injectable, or intrauterine device), tried to get a birth control prescription in the past year, or ever used an oral contraceptive pill or progestin-only pill had higher odds of likely use. Among teens, Spanish speakers and those who ever had sex had higher odds of likely use; Black teens (vs. White) had lower odds.


      Teens and adults are interested in using an OTC progestin-only pill. These findings indicate a large pool of interested users and the potential for improved contraceptive access by making an OTC progestin-only pill available.
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      Kate Grindlay, MSPH, is an Associate at Ibis Reproductive Health and Project Director of the Free the Pill project. She oversees the implementation of a program to move an oral contraceptive pill over the counter in the United States.


      Daniel Grossman, MD, is the Director of Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health at the University of California, San Francisco. His research focuses on improving access to contraception and safe abortion and evaluating the impact of integrating reproductive health and HIV services.