One of the more frustrating things about being on birth control pills is that there’s a limit to how many pill packs women are allowed to get at one time. That often means women have to run to the pharmacy every month, or at the very least every 90 days, for a refill.
Well, lawmakers in Virginia are working to change that.
On Feb. 7, the House of Delegates overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan bill — the Birth Control Access Act — that would permit pharmacists to provide an entire year’s worth of oral contraceptives at once if they are prescribed by a doctor, according to WSET.com. The legislation is now in the hands of the state Senate.
“Expanding access to birth control just makes sense, and we are thrilled that the House has passed this bill,” Anna Scholl, executive director of the advocacy group Progress Virginia, told WSET.com. “Women lead busy lives, and there’s no medical reason to make them go back and forth to the pharmacy every month to get the medication they need.”
Research shows that there are benefits to a one-year supply beyond saving you multiple trips to the pharmacy. A 2011 study in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology found that women who received a year’s worth of oral contraceptives were less likely to have an unplanned pregnancy and an abortion than women who could get only a one- or three-month supply at a time.
“Dispensing a 1-year supply is associated with a 30 percent reduction in the odds of conceiving an unplanned pregnancy compared with dispensing just one or three packs and a 46 percent reduction in the odds of an abortion,” noted the study’s researchers.
Diana Greene Foster, PhD, lead researcher of the study and an associate professor at the University of California, San Francisco, department of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences, tells Yahoo Beauty: “One in five women seeking abortion report that they had unprotected sex because ‘they ran out of the birth control method they were using.’ Giving women a steady supply of contraceptives and not making them return to a clinic or pharmacy every month or quarter decreases the chance of a gap in supply and facilitates continuous use.”
Foster adds: “It’s about patient-centered care and not putting unnecessary obstacles in the path of women.”
While Virginia is working toward removing those obstacles to oral contraceptives, some women are taking birth control matters into their own hands.
In light of concerns about President Trump and his fellow Republicans vowing to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), many women are worried about their health insurance coverage, which, under ACA, is required to cover all forms of birth control that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Since Trump has yet to produce a detailed plan for an ACA replacement, leaving some to question whether free birth control will be offered in that yet-to-be-revealed plan, a rush of women have chosen to get IUDs, a long-term birth control option that is more than 99 percent effective for three to 12 years, depending on which kind you get, according to Planned Parenthood.