Can I get birth control without a doctor?
Plenty of us dream of the day when birth control for women is as easy to get as condoms, but until that day comes, we need to take a slightly different path. If you’re thinking about birth control, but wondering if you need to see a doctor, it may depend on what you’re looking for. The most popular form of birth control, birth control pills, requires a prescription from a licensed practitioner.
To be clear, doctors, physician’s assistants, and certified nurse practitioners all have the training and licensing to prescribe birth control. In a few states, pharmacists can also prescribe birth control, but this isn’t common and access varies depending on your state and pharmacy.
But, do I need to go in for birth control?
The answer is no. Online visits for birth control are a fast way to get a birth control prescription without going into a clinic.
There are several websites or apps you can use to get a prescription from your laptop or phone. The prescription is sent, then you pick up your birth control at your pharmacy or it arrives by mail, depending on the service you use.
Birth control pills are prescribed most often (similar to a traditional clinic). But women who don’t want to take a pill every day, look to other options. A few include the patch, which is applied to your skin every week, or the birth control ring, inserted vaginally every month.
The exception is long term birth control, like an Intrauterine device (IUD) or an implant. You’ll need to go in since these methods require placement by a doctor in your uterus or arm.
What about my annual exam?
Annual exams are important, and getting birth control online doesn’t mean your overall health should be put aside. But based on ACOG’s recommendations, cervical cancer screenings (pap smears) are now recommended every 3 or 5 years depending on your age and history. So you may not need to be seen every year.
Since most women often got a prescription at the same time as an exam, the two tasks seemed to be connected. But getting birth control is not dependent on having a physical exam.
Prescribing birth control is typically based on your situation and needs, separate from the screenings and tests in a physical exam.
So which online clinic is right for you?
If you’re just starting to use birth control, make sure you find an online clinic that has accessible customer service and medical professionals. When you have questions or if you experience any side effects you’ll want to feel confident there are people available 24/7 to talk with and make adjustments if needed.
On top of that, pricing can be confusing, so it’s worth it to check what’s included in the cost, and how often you’ll have to pay. Most birth control prescriptions are covered by insurance as required by law. So choosing a service that accepts insurance can save you money.
Lastly, make sure to think about when you’ll have your birth control in-hand. If you should be starting a new pill pack today or tomorrow, waiting a few days isn’t a great option. So look for services that allow you to pick up your prescription today.
With dozens of birth control options, experienced practitioners can help match the type of contraception to different needs and preferences. A prescription for birth control pills, the patch, or ring, are all available online at virtuwell.