Doctors are the only safe providers of birth control

Access to birth control may now be as easy as taking a trip to the pharmacy, skipping a doctor altogether. But obvious benefits are outweighing the unclear costs.

California State legislature originally passed the law SB 491, allowing females of all ages to pick up hormonal contraceptives from local pharmacies without having to first see a doctor in 2013 but it was held up in regulatory discussions until April 8, according to the Los Angeles Times.

This revision to the process of acquiring contraceptives has a popular, obvious benefit. Because the new law is probable to lead to fewer unwanted pregnancies the consequences are being irresponsibly overlooked.

But the the use of birth control comes with some downsides that should be considered after consulting a doctor first. Hormonal contraceptives, which include the pill, patch and vaginal ring, contain man-made estrogen and progestin hormones. These hormones tamper with the body’s natural hormones which can ultimately lead the experience of side effects.

Common side effects for birth control include nausea, headaches and migraines, mood changes and missed periods, according to Medical News Today in an article by Lori Smith, an accomplished freelance health and wellness writer and co-writer, and Dr. Helen Webberley.

If a side effect occurs, a doctor visit is recommended in order to find the birth control that fits best without causing side effects. In a typical hospital setting, a doctor diagnoses the side effects and provides a new contraceptive to try.

In a pharmacy, where there is no doctor visit required, the process of finding a birth control that works best for each individual female will not be possible.

A patient’s medical risks are most accurately known by their doctor. Some people do not have a health care provider and are therefore unaware of their own health risks.

High blood pressure mixed with hormonal contraceptives will increase the risk of blood clots and strokes. Before providing the hormones pharmacists are required to administer a questionnaire, according to the Los Angeles Times. A questionnaire at a pharmacy will not be aware if the teen girl or woman obtaining the birth control is at risk.

California is now the third state to allow pharmacies to provide birth control, behind Washington and Oregon. Over 100 million women worldwide have used hormonal contraceptives, according to a study by Guttmacher Institute.

It is a common misconception that while on hormonal contraceptives that no other type of protection is required because the biggest fear for many, pregnancy, is unlikely. This is mostly false.

Hormonal contraceptives such as the pill, shot and vaginal ring do not protect against transmitted diseases, according to HIV Insight, a project of the University of California, San Francisco. This is an especially difficult concept for many college students to grasp.

Among those most affected with STD rates are college-aged adults. In fact, “young people ages 15 to 24 represent 25 percent of the sexually experienced population and accounts for nearly 50 percent of all new STDs,” according to a study on sexual health by New York University.

Getting back to a fear of pregnancy, even the most effective contraceptives can’t prevent stupidity.

It is true that hormonal contraceptives have a rate of .1 percent of an unintended pregnancy, but what happens if a pill is accidentally missed, even just once?

If a woman misses a pill or, in some cases, does not take the pill at a frequent time she is 30 to 80 times more likely to have an unwanted pregnancy, according to Medical News Today in an article by Smith and Dr. Webberley.

As of April, pharmacies all over California can legally provide ‘over the counter’ birth control but are not required by law to participate, according to Jessica Firger on Newsweek. Women should exercise caution and consider a doctor’s advice even if it’s not required, because our bodies are too important to treat so carelessly.