Wait, I Can Get Birth Control Online?
Getting birth control has always been a little bit of a hassle for me. I need to go to a doctor, tell her that I want to have sex, and hope she agrees to write a prescription.
Then I need to go to a pharmacy to pick up the prescription. I have go every 4 weeks, because the idea of getting more than one month’s supply is apparently unheard of in my health insurance plan. I’m on a first name basis with the pharmacy techs.
Then I have to go back every year (often getting a Pap smear) to get the prescription renewed.
If you’re like me and you get assigned a new doctor every year, your physical day will be pushed back and you will likely have to submit a request by phone for a prescription renewal.
Then the doctor’s office might accidentally call your parents, who were listed as an emergency contact. That’s always fun.
Recently I found out that it’s possible to get a prescription for birth control online, and have it shipped to me. No doctor’s visit required.
*record scratch* What?!
You read correctly. Companies like Nurx, Prjkt Ruby, SimpleHealth, and PillClub can provide birth control online. You fill out a questionnaire about your health, and a doctor can write a prescription. The company will ship the birth control to you.
I know it’s good to establish care with a doctor in person. I saw mine two months ago. Then she moved away from the practice, and I’m looking at scheduling a physical with my fourth primary care provider in four years.
What’s the point of “establishing care” if there is no consistent person to establish it with?
Some critics say that online healthcare, AKA telehealth, is not good for birth control because the process skips the Pap smear test.
A Pap smear is not necessary to go on birth control. However, it’s a quick way to screen for cervical cancer, so it’s an important test to get done at the recommended times.
I don’t need to get a Pap smear every year, as the recommendation is for healthy women in their thirties to get them every five years. Yet I used to end up on the stirrups yearly, getting poked in the cervix because my birth control was being held hostage.
Now, let me give you a caveat: If you take hormonal birth control, you DO need to get your blood pressure checked every year. The reason for this is that birth control can increase your risk of strokes. Other factors, like smoking, may make it dangerous for you to take birth control.
If you’ve never taken birth control before or have any concerns, it is well worth talking to a doctor (or PA, or NP) and getting a physical exam. Ditto if you’ve never had an STI test--it’s important, as some infections do not have symptoms but can cause serious medical problems down the road.
But to fill in the gaps between visits for a healthy person? I’ll certainly be looking into telehealth if I run into problems getting a renewal. It’s at least worth a try.