What If Everyone Took Their Birth Control On Time?

Oral contraceptives, or birth control pills, remain one of the most popular medications ever.  The Pill was first approved in 1960 by the FDA. Since then, hundreds of millions of women have taken it.  Birth control has had a profound impact in so many different ways--from gender roles to women’s empowerment, the little pink pill has forever altered the fabric of American society.  Even today, The Pill is still making headlines.

More than 10.5 million American women take birth control.  It is the number #1 choice for contraception out of the dozen or so options out there.  According to the Centers of Disease Control, 80% of sexually active women have taken The Pill some time during their life.  

There are two and a half reasons why The Pill has become some wildly popular.

Reason 1:  If taken perfectly, The Pill is very effective.  It works 99.7% of the time.  If 1,000 women take The Pill perfectly, only 3 will get pregnant in a year.  This is comparable to the effectiveness of intrauterine devices (IUDs) and tubal sterilization (female sterilization).  It is more effective than a vasectomy (male sterilization).

Reason 2:  It’s easy to take.  The Pill is a once a day medication.  It does not require a doctor to implant.  It’s not permanent like a surgical procedure making The Pill even more popular for younger women in their teens and 20s.

Reason 2.5:  It makes your skin better.  The Pill is approved for the treatment of acne as well as contraception.

If the pill is supposed to work so well and easy to use, why our half of pregnancies in the United States still unwanted?  In fact, only about half of all Pill users take it perfectly.

How much money would we save if we unleashed the full potential of The Pill?  How many unwanted pregnancies would we eliminate?  How many fewer abortions would happen?  

We crunched the numbers and they are scary.

10.5 million American women take The Pill every year.  According to the Guttmacher Institute, the vast majority (86%) take the pill for contraception.

If we consider these 9 million women, let’s see what the difference in pregnancy rates would be if the Pill was used perfectly instead of what happens in the real world.

Out of unwanted pregnancies in North America, we know that 48% of women choose to have an unplanned birth.  35% will have an abortion.  The rest will suffer miscarriages or use emergency contraception purchased over the counter.

This means that there were 372,708 unwanted births, 271,766 abortions and 131,001 miscarriages caused by imperfect Pill use last year alone.

The costs are astronomical too.

The average cost of an uncomplicated birth in the United States is $12,520 for a vaginal delivery and $16,673 for a C-section.  33% of births in the  United States happen by C-section.  In regards to out-of-pocket costs, the average mom will have to pay $1,686 for a vaginal birth and $1,948 for a C-section.

We aren’t done yet.  Let’s not forget the cost of pregnancy tests.  In the United States, home pregnancy kits are a $228 million dollar industry.  Our own survey data shows that 25% of the users on The Pill have purchased a pregnancy test in the last year.  If we extrapolate this data out to the 50% of women who do not take their pills perfectly, we estimate more than 1 million pregnancy tests per year for pill users.  At $15-$20 a pop, that’s another $20 million dollars that could be saved.

Plan B or emergency contraception costs anywhere from $35 to $70 at a local pharmacy.  Again, our data showed that 2% of Pill users took Plan B while on the Pill.  That’s another $4 million dollars in savings.  As a society, imperfect pill use is incredibly expensive.  It costs us at $5.3 billion dollars in healthcare costs.  It’s not just society.  Imperfect pill use costs moms a ton out of pocket!  Overall, it’s more than $760 million dollars a year. 

The Pill is a revolutionary drug.  It will continue to remain the leading method of contraception worldwide.  How can we make it better?

The number one reason why people don’t take their medications is simple.  People forget.  Young women, the group where the pill is most preferred, tend to forget the most.

Packaging for The PIll hasn’t changed since the 1960s.  The blister pack doesn’t do enough.

This is why we created Oviary, a revolutionary system dedicated to helping women take The Pill on time, everyday. We want to make every user of the pill a perfect user.  Developed by doctors, engineers and professional designers, Oviary is taking The Pill from the 1960s to the 21st century.

The device sends text messages to alert a user only when she forgets.  Oviary includes instructions on how to stay protected based on the user’s personal history and where she is in her cycle.  It also makes sure that users start their next pack on time by sending special reminders.  The device ensures that if a woman can’t refill her blister pack, she knows what to do to stay protected.  

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Oviary is discrete, provides immediate visual information and is easily portable.  It fits into the lives of modern women.  It does way more than just an app.

Oviary is a technology that can help eliminate the $5.3 billion dollars American society spends on unintended pregnancies and abortions in birth control users per year.  It will help hardworking women save more than $760 million dollars out of pocket due to imperfect pill use.  There could be 770,000 fewer unwanted pregnancies and 272,000 fewer abortions every year in the US alone.

Join us in making The Pill more effective for women worldwide by supporting our Kickstarter campaign.  

Let’s start another revolution.

References:

  1. Rosenberg MJ, Waugh MS, Long S. Unwanted pregnancies and use, misuse, and discontinuation of oral contraceptives. Journal of Reproductive Medicine 1995;40 (5):355–60
  2. Singh S, Sedgh G and Hussain R. Unwanted pregnancy: worldwide levels, trends and outcomes. Studies in Family Planning 2010;41(4):241-250
  3. Finer, LB and Henshaw, SK.  Disparities in rates of unwanted pregnancy in the United States, 1994 and 2001. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health 2006;38(2): 90-96
  4. Truven Health Analytics. The Cost of Having a Baby. 2013. URL: http://transform.childbirthconnection.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Cost-of-Having-a-Baby1.pdf
  5. Hamilton BE, Martin JA, Ventura SJ. Births: preliminary data for 2010. Natl Vital Stat Rep 2011;60(2):1-2
  6. Braunstein, GD. The long gestation of the modern home pregnancy test. Clinical Chemistry 2014;60(1):18-21