OTC vs Scripted Contraceptives – Types and Differences
OTC vs Scripted Contraceptives – Types and Differences
Decades ago, birth control was seldom discussed outside the bedroom. Over-the-counter (OTC) birth control options were minimal and hard to find. Now, the birth control section in stores is easy to find, and there’s a much larger variety of options available.
Most pharmacies and grocery stores offer OTC birth control in stores or online. If you’re looking for a particular brand and can’t find it in the store, try the store’s website where there’s often a larger selection.
OTC birth control options are non-hormonal. This means that they don’t rely on the hormones oestrogen or progestin to prevent pregnancy. Instead, these methods rely on other means.
OTC Birth Control Methods
Male condoms are considered a barrier form of birth control. They’re made from latex, lambskin, or polyurethane. Male condoms are placed on an erect penis and prevent sperm from entering the vagina and reaching an unfertilized egg. The condoms may be lubricated or non-lubricated. They may also include spermicide for additional protection.
When they’re used correctly, most male condoms help prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Lambskin or other natural condoms don’t provide STI protection.
Female Condoms are a lubricated pouch designed to prevent sperm from entering the vagina. These also help protect against STDs. Female condoms can be inserted into the vagina up to eight hours before intercourse. They’re less effective than male condoms. The CDC reports they have a 21 percent failure rate.
Any woman can use female condoms, but some may experience vaginal irritation or condom slippage during intercourse.
Something to consider: Spermicide. There are several types of spermicides available. The options include:
Most spermicides contain nonoxynol-9, a substance that essentially stops sperm in their tracks. This means that the substance prevents sperm from reaching an unfertilized egg. Spermicide may be used alone or with other types of birth control, such as condoms and diaphragms.
When it’s used alone, any type of spermicide should be placed in the vagina at least an hour before intercourse. The substance must also be left in place for six to eight hours after intercourse. Because of this, some people may find spermicides to be messy.
The Contraceptive Sponge is about two inches in diameter, made of soft foam, and contains nonoxynol-9 spermicide. It has a loop on one end for easy removal. The sponge helps prevent pregnancy two ways. The sponge itself is a barrier, which prevents sperm from traveling through the cervix, and the spermicide prevents sperm from moving beyond the sponge.
Before you use the sponge, you must wet it with water and squeeze it to activate the spermicide. You then insert it into the vagina where it can remain for up to 24 hours. This is true regardless of how many times you have intercourse.
If you leave the sponge in for 30 or more hours, you’re at an increased risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS). This is a serious and potentially life-threatening bacterial infection.
You shouldn’t use the sponge if you:
1. are allergic to sulfa drugs, polyurethane, or spermicide
2. have physical vaginal issues
3. have had a recent abortion
4. have recently miscarried
5. have recently given birth
6. have an infection in your reproductive tract
7. have a history of TSS (toxic shock syndrome)
The sponge has a 91 percent success rate when it’s “always used as directed” by women who’ve never given birth. That number drops to 88 percent for women who’ve given birth.
Nonoxynol-9 doesn’t prevent the spread of STIs. In fact, this substance may actually increase the risk of STIs, such as HIV, in some people. Research has shown that spermicide disrupts the wall of the vagina, which can make it easier for infection to get through. If spermicide is used multiple times per day, your risk for infection may increase even more. The CDC lists the failure rate of spermicide at 28 percent.
Emergency Contraception, or “the morning after pill,” helps prevent your ovary from releasing an egg. Emergency contraception can be used up to five days after unprotected sex. The longer you wait to take this, the higher your risk of pregnancy.
Depending on the brand you buy, this is 85 to 89 percent effective when used within three to five days of unprotected sex. Effectiveness decreases over time. All women can use emergency contraception, although, it may not work if your body mass index is over 25.
As we can see, the types of OTC or non-scripted birth control methods are largely reliant on barrier protection. While this remains the only method (barrier method, that is) of preventing the spread of STI’s, the method can be somewhat cumbersome.
Scripted Birth Control Methods
Birth Control Implant (AKA Nexplanon) is a tiny, thin rod about the size of a matchstick. The implant releases hormones into your body that prevent you from getting pregnant. A nurse or doctor inserts the implant into your arm and that’s it — you’re protected from pregnancy for up to 4 years. It’s get-it-and-forget-it birth control.
Birth control patch: The transdermal contraceptive patch is a safe, simple, and affordable birth control method that you wear on the skin of your belly, upper arm, butt, or back. Put a new patch on every week for 3 weeks, and it releases hormones that prevent pregnancy. Then you get a week off before you repeat the cycle.
Birth control pills are a kind of medicine with hormones that you take every day to prevent pregnancy. There are many different brands of pills. The pill is safe, affordable, and effective if you always take it on time. Besides preventing pregnancy, the pill has lots of other health benefits, too.
Birth control shots - The depo shot (AKA Depo-Provera) is an injection you get from a nurse or doctor once every 3 months. It’s a safe, convenient, and private birth control method that works really well if you always get it on time.
Birth control ring - (AKA NuvaRing) is a safe, simple, and affordable birth control method that you wear inside your vagina. The small, flexible ring prevents pregnancy by releasing hormones into your body. The ring is really effective if you always use it the right way.
IUD Borth Control - an IUD is a tiny device that's put into your uterus to prevent pregnancy. It’s long-term, reversible, and one of the most effective birth control methods out there. These IUDs are divided into 2 types: copper IUDs (ParaGard and CopperPearls iUB) and hormonal IUDs (Mirena, Kyleena, Liletta, and Skyla).
Tubal ligation: Want to make sure pregnancy is not in your future? Tubal ligation (sometimes called sterilization, female sterilization, or “getting your tubes tied”) is a safe and effective surgical procedure that permanently prevents pregnancy.