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Where to get birth control

Where to get birth control

Over the years birth control availability has become more widespread. There are a number of ways to get hold of your chosen birth control, from making an appointment with your doctor to using an online pharmacy.

If you’ve ever wondered how to get the pill or what’s the most convenient place for you to go, we’ll let you know all your options.

Daniel Atkinson
Medically reviewed by
Daniel Atkinson, GP Clinical lead
Table of contents
Medically reviewed by
Dr Daniel Atkinson
GP Clinical lead
on August 02, 2022.
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Getting birth control in person

It’s possible to get hold of your birth control through various routes. Your options can depend on what type of contraception you prefer.

  • Over-the-counter: condoms, spermicide, etc
  • Prescription medication: combined pill, mini pill, patch or ring.
  • Long-acting reversible contraception: usually a small procedure carried out by a healthcare professional in a clinical environment. E.g. the hormonal or non-hormonal IUD.

Over-the-counter birth control

In Canada, it’s not currently possible to get hormonal birth control over the counter. However, a few states (including Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia) make it possible to get hormonal birth control prescribed directly by your pharmacist rather than a doctor.

There are several non-hormonal options you can get over the counter at a pharmacy, though. These include male and female condoms, spermicide and the sponge.

Planned Parenthood and sexual health clinics

Sexual health clinics like Planned Parenthood provide a number of services related to sexual health, including contraception and emergency contraception.

When you visit a sexual health clinic all your details will be treated confidentially. This includes any information provided by young women and children who are between the ages of 13 and 16 years. Sexual health clinics will never contact your family about your visit or your contraception use. You can take a friend with you to your appointment if you feel like it.

If you’re visiting a sexual health clinic for the first time, you should expect to be asked to provide some basic details about yourself like your name, date of birth and contact details. You may be asked about your past contraceptive use and sexual health history, and certain clinics may offer to test for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Getting birth control from your doctor

The traditional way of getting hormonal birth control was to make an appointment with your doctor or gynecologist.

Typically, you may be asked some questions about your sexual health history and what your expectations are about birth control, especially if you’re consulting for the first time. There are roughly 15 methods of contraception, so finding the right birth control can come down to a chat between you and your doctor. All methods have their advantages and disadvantages, and you can always switch if a particular method isn’t working for you.

Your doctor will prescribe birth control after a basic consultation. Even if you’re under the age of 16, your doctor will treat the information you provide as entirely confidential. As long as they believe you fully understand the information you’ve been provided with, then getting contraception is no more difficult than if you were older. They will not tell your family you’ve sought birth control, unless they feel you’re in danger.

Drug stores and pharmacies

You can take your prescription for birth control to drug stores like Wallgreen’s. The main birth control methods you’ll get in a pharmacy are those which can be self-administered, like the pill, patch or ring. For things like the implant or IUD, a doctor or sexual health nurse will need to fit them.

In some states, pharmacists are able to prescribe birth control, so you can get your prescription done at the same time as your shopping.

Getting contraception from Safeway

Many large supermarkets like Safeway also operate in-store pharmacies, where you can have your prescriptions processed. Using an in-store pharmacy can be convenient and accessible for a lot of people.

Getting birth control online

It’s also possible to get your pill online in the US. If you want to order birth control online, you’ll need a prescription from a doctor licensed to practice in your state. Some online pharmacies can dispense prescriptions you already have, while others are able to issue you the prescription in addition to shipping it.

If you want to get birth control online, you’ll likely have to answer some questions about your general health. A medical professional will then review your responses and prescribe birth control if they are satisfied that it is safe to do so. Sometimes, the cost of consultation, prescription, medication and delivery are all included in one price.

Buying birth control online can be preferable because it is sometimes quicker, more convenient and more discreet than doing so in person.

Buying birth control safely online

It’s important to make sure you buy medications online safely. There are some checks you can perform to ensure where you’re buying from is the real deal.

  1. Online pharmacies should be NABP-accredited digital pharmacies.
  2. Who is prescribing your medication? Doctors who prescribe in the US must be licensed to practice in the state you live in.

If something doesn’t feel right then it’s probably best to take a pause before you go ahead and place an order.

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