With the rate of teen pregnancy increasing, a lot of studies are undergoing on increasing teen pregnancy and how to decrease pregnancy in adolescents. From new research one of the reasons for the increase in teen pregnancy is demand of doctor’s prescriptions by pharmacists in order to buy emergency contraception by teenagers.
The new research is about the percentage of teens that are being refused getting morning after pills at pharmacies. As per the latest research about 1 in 10 teenagers are denied to purchase contraception in emergency situation at pharmacies. It’s legal for customers of all age to buy contraception without any prescription. But some teen consumers are denied at drugstores and they are told that since they are adolescents they can’t buy contraception without a prescription.
Another finding from the studies is that teen boys are more likely to be able to buy contraception than teen girls.
Researchers from Indiana University have led the study that points this issue as a barrier in unplanned teen pregnancies.
Morning after pill (MAP) is emergency contraception, a type of birth control pill that is used after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy. These pills may contain hormones that are also regular in birth control pills. It works by delaying the release of egg in ovary, prevents fertilization of the egg also prevents the fertilized egg to implant to the uterus. In order to prevent pregnancy the pills have to be taken within 3 to 5 days of unprotected sex. The best time to ensure no pregnancy is to take the pill right after sex or condom failure.
“The sooner, the better”, said by Dr. Tracey Wilkinson, the lead author of the study. She is an assistant professor of pediatrics at Indiana University, School of Medicine. She stated if there is any barrier to access, there maybe delay getting emergency contraception and someone may not get it at all.
To ensure the safety of medication usage in teenagers, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had removed access to non-prescription emergency contraceptive pills for people of age 18 and younger. Then the age for over-the-counter pill access was lowered to 17. Eventually in 2013 the federal agency led access to emergency contraception to people of all ages.
To conduct the research, Dr. Tracey Wilkinson and colleagues got mysterious callers pretending as physicians/ teens to call around 1 thousand retail drugstores in 5 cities of US. They got response from 4 out 5 stores that emergency contraception was made available for purchase but around 1 in 10 teenagers were unfairly told they needed doctor’s prescription to get it for being too young.
The researchers reported in the Journal of Adolescent Health that physicians, teen boys (11%) and girls (8%) calling behalf of young patient had no access to emergency contraception because of age barrier. Compared to 57 percent female physicians and 62 percent teen boys, about 52 percent teen girls were told that they could get emergency contraception without any prescription.
In 2017, the researchers also performed another study being mysterious shoppers. They posed as teens and went to ask for over-the-counter pills at pharmacies. A lot of teens were denied by pharmacists to get the pills without prescription for being adolescents.
Even 17 years old consumers have been refused to get emergency contraception by some pharmacists according to a study conducted by researchers at Boston University in 2012. There is a possibility for different consequences for asking in person or asking over the phone by the teens. This possibility makes the findings of the research vulnerable.
There can be more reason behind teens getting rejected by the pharmacists. There can be moral or religious concerns and misunderstandings between customer and pharmacists. Also label on medicine package can be an obstacle. As per old law, packages contain label that these pills are for female over 17 while new labels contain no age restriction.
A solution to these additional barriers is to obtain the pills before it’s needed to have immediate access in emergency situations, said by Dr. Wilkinson. Parents should also discuss safe sex with the teens.