Drs: Should Birth Control Pills Be Available Over-The-Counter?


The Doctors: Is It Okay To Double Dip?

The Doctors kicked off their January 8 episode by talking about double-dipping, and whether it could truly put your health at risk. They took three dips: cheese sauce, chocolate sauce, and salsa, and asked participants to double dip in one bowl of each, and then turn their chip around to avoid double-dipping, in other bowls of the same dips. Would less bacteria be transferred?


Clemson University did a study and found that double-dipping could lead to 100 times more bacteria in the bowl. The Doctors found that the salsa and cheese had two types of staph, one of which was a variant of MRSA. The chocolate had two other types of staph. When the chip was flipped, salsa and chocolate had no extra bacteria, but the cheese still had staph. Basically, you’re better off just eating off your own plate.

Drs: Should Birth Control Pills Be Available Over-The-Counter?

The Doctors took part in a heated debate over the idea of over-the-counter birth control pills. (nateone / Flickr)

Salsa is five-times more susceptible to bacteria than chocolate or cheese sauces, but if the person sharing the dip with you hasn’t washed their hands then you’re really putting yourself at risk! If you were double-dipping before, do you plan on changing your ways?


The Doctors: Sugar Water For A Better Workout?

The Doctors then moved on to suggest that a spoonful of sugar could help with a workout. A recent study found that a spoonful of sugar mixed into a glass of water could make your workout easier. An England university tested the rate at which people could absorb certain forms of sugars, and found that sugar water was more effective than sports drinks in the 14 cyclists they looked at.

This study is controversial because its known that muscles use glucose during exercise. It’s known that carbohydrates can push themselves harder, longer, and faster with less perception of pain when they have any form of sugar compared to water. It’s best to just figure out what works for you and what you enjoy, but a drink like this would be for endurance athletes only.

The Doctors: Over-The-Counter Birth Control Debate

Next, The Doctors discussed the fight for over-the-counter birth control pills. California and Oregon have passed legislature that would allow pharmacies provide birth control without a doctor’s prescription. Fighting to make oral contraceptives available over-the-counter is Britt Wahlin from IBIS Reproductive Health. Britt explained that the FDA needs to approve an over-the-counter birth control pill before it becomes available.

If the wrong person takes birth control pills, there can be some dangerous side effects which is what makes many doctors nervous. Dr Jennifer Ashton pointed out that pharmacists are well-educated in pharmacology and are an under-utilized resource in our country. She did a 4-year residency in OB/GYN but knows that a pharmacist doesn’t have the same knowledge of hormonal contraception as a medical doctor or board-certified OB/GYN. While birth control pills are safe and effective and need to be more accessible, people still die on the pill and there are major complications that need medical management that a pharmacist cannot provide.

The Doctors: Should OTC Birth Control Pills Be Available?

Britt believes the benefits outweight the risks, and said the professional group for OB/GYNs agree with that idea. She made a point to say that getting it from a pharmacist and getting it off the shelf are two different ideas, but both are improvements. Britt argued that research has shown that women can self-screen for many things that would make the birth control unsafe for them to use, but before she could even finish her thought Dr Ashton and Dr Rachael Ross intervened, arguing that she was wrong in saying that.

Dr Ashton receives calls in her office after they’ve had 30-60 minutes of face time with her, asking more follow-up questions. So who was going to answer those questions? Pharmacists without the specialized training? Dr Ashton knows that birth control needs to be more accessible, but for a pharmacist to council patients on hereditary risks of clotting disorders or high blood pressure and other risks, is wrong.

The Doctors: Readily-Available Oral Contraceptives Debate

Britt then argued that there was a successful model in Washington State where pharmacists have been able to successfully prescribe and dispense hormonal contraception and said she believes they’re “quite qualified.” She added that laws in California and Oregon require special training for pharmacists. Dr Ashton said she looks forward to seeing pharmacists do all the things that OB/GYNs do. Britt stated that research has shown that even if the pill was available over-the-counter, the women still go and see their gynecologists for regular screening, but Dr Ashton countered that they don’t, but instead pull the patient away from their health care providers.

Dr Ashton was truly fired up talking about the idea, but where do you stand?


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