New Data: Most Young People Face Barriers to Birth Control Access

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: (September 26th, 2022)

National survey finds majority of young people struggle to access birth control, resulting in unwanted pregnancy, side effects and delayed doses

Washington, D.C. (Septmeber 26th, 2022) —

 New data released today from Advocates for Youth indicates that the majority of young people around the country face barriers to accessing birth control, often resulting in delayed doses, side effects and total inability to begin using contraception. The data, resulting from a national survey, arrives on World Contraception Day and as the FDA considers approving the first-ever progestin-only, daily birth control pill available over-the-counter in the US. Last week, the FDA announced that the first Advisory Committee session to discuss HRA Pharma’s application for an over-the-counter birth control pill will take place on November 18, 2022.

Of the 243 people from 42 states surveyed, an overwhelming majority (88%) struggled to access birth control, and 55% experienced so many barriers they could not start taking birth control on their preferred timeline. 

Of that 55% of respondents, 58% had a pregnancy scare, 20% got pregnant when they didn’t want to, and 16% had an abortion. Of those who failed to get on birth control pills due to barriers created by the prescription-only system, 57% were forced to delay renewing a prescription, and 45% used Emergency Contraception.

“The data resulting from our national survey clearly demonstrates what we’ve long known to be true: young people in the United States face unnecessary and unreasonable barriers to accessing birth control pills, often with harmful and life-altering consequences,” said Deb Hauser, President of Advocates for Youth. “We look forward to seeing the FDA and the Biden administration follow the data and the science by making birth control pills available without undue restrictions and without a prescription.”

For young people — especially low-income, POC, trans, queer, and other marginalized youth — accessing birth control can be unnecessarily difficult but crucially important to preventing unplanned pregnancies and protecting bodily autonomy. 

The survey results released today also include personal anecdotes from young people detailing the challenges they face starting birth control, refilling prescriptions and picking up medication far from school campuses, among other barriers.

“My peers in high school would often ask me for help accessing birth control because many couldn’t find transportation to get an exam and pick up the pills downtown. Often I would drive 10-15 times a month to support my friends and people I barely knew to address this huge gap in care,” wrote Brianna, age 19 from Florida.

“I am from a military family and I have moved four times in the last five years. The prescription requirement made it extremely difficult to refill my birth control each time I moved because the official transfer of paperwork often took several weeks. This, in turn, caused me to miss several pills and therefore have to deal with the adverse side effects of this disruption,” wrote Meghan, age 19 from Colorado. 

Advocates for Youth experts and youth activists are available for interviews to discuss the survey’s findings, the importance of the FDA’s review of the first over-the-counter birth control pill in the United States, and the youth-led movement to expand access to contraception.

The complete survey results and report can be found here. 

Contact: Eleanor Naiman, eleanor.naiman@berlinrosen.com



Advocates for Youth is a 501(c)3 organization that champions efforts that help young people make informed decisions about their reproductive and sexual health. Advocates boldly advocates for a more positive and realistic approach to adolescent sexual health, focusing its work on young people ages 14-25 in the U.S. and around the globe.