Expanding adolescent access to hormonal contraception: An update on over-the-counter, pharmacist prescribing, and web-based telehealth approaches

Rebekah L. Williams, Ashley H. Meredith, Mary A. Ott

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

1 Scopus citations


Purpose of review Hormonal contraceptives are largely responsible for recent declines in unintended adolescent pregnancies, with oral contraceptives being the most commonly used. Young people face multiple barriers to accessing effective contraception in clinical settings. This article reviews innovations in contraceptive access. Recent findings The three biggest innovations are over-the-counter oral contraceptives (OTC-OCs), pharmacist-prescribing, and web-based telehealth platforms. In many countries, oral contraceptives are available OTC, and FDA trials for OTC-OCs are underway in the United States. Many states have passed legislation allowing pharmacists to prescribe contraceptives after a brief health screening. Web-based telehealth platforms also provide prescription contraceptive access. There is a small but growing body of literature that demonstrates young people's interest in, and capacity to consent to, hormonal contraceptives in nontraditional settings. State-to-state variability in minor consent, pharmacist prescribing, and telehealth laws act as barriers to young people's access to these newer options. Summary Access to hormonal contraception is expanding outside of clinical settings, reducing barriers. Adolescents' unique needs should be considered in the design, implementation, and evaluation of these new approaches. More data is needed to ensure that adolescents are not excluded from expanded contraceptive access options, as they are disproportionately affected by unintended pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)458-464
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018



  • Access
  • Adolescents
  • Contraception
  • Over-the-counter
  • Pharmacy
  • Telehealth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

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