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How to Get Birth Control: Pills and More

There are various types of birth control that are safe and readily available. Some are non-hormonal barrier forms of birth control, while others contain one or more hormones to prevent pregnancy. However, not all forms of birth control can prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Why do you need birth control?

The obvious reason to use birth control is to prevent pregnancy. Some forms of birth control can be used for other reasons as well. Some examples of birth control include:

Condoms — They can be used to prevent pregnancy and the transmission of most STIs.

Birth control pills — In addition to preventing pregnancy, these pills can help decrease painful periods and make your cycle more regular, reduce acne, control symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), prevent ovarian cysts, and, if advised by your doctor, lower your risk of some cancers.

Do you need a prescription for birth control? 

You might wonder if you need a prescription for birth control. Not all forms of birth control require a prescription. In fact, some can be picked up free of charge. Free condoms can be found at Planned Parenthood, some school nurse’s offices, on-campus college health centers, and other clinics that provide safe sex and contraceptive counseling services.  

There are forms of birth control that can be purchased without a prescription. They include the following:

  • male condoms 
  • spermicide foam, suppositories, films, creams, and gels 
  • female condoms

Barrier types of contraception do not change your fertility, so they need to be used correctly in order to prevent pregnancy. These forms of birth control are good for women who are breastfeeding, have medical conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes, and who cannot tolerate hormonal birth control methods. 

A woman getting a birth control prescription

How to get a birth control prescription

Lots of women want to know how to get a birth control prescription. There are several types of birth control that can only be obtained by seeing a medical professional. These forms of contraception include:

Some of these are prescriptions that you can have filled at your local pharmacy (pills, patches, ring). The others will require several medical visits to have the device placed and fitted (IUDs, cervical caps, diaphragms, implants) or for a surgical procedure.

The advantage of these latter methods is that they are designed for long-term use. Contraceptive injections (like Depo-Provera) are given in a medical office every three months. 

How to get birth control without insurance 

We now have lots of birth control options that are safe and effective. A relatively easy option is to purchase contraceptives from a local drugstore.

Only non-hormonal barrier methods like those listed above are available without a medical procedure or prescription. These forms of contraception tend to be less expensive than prescriptions and can be purchased by anyone. 

Planned Parenthood, school nurse’s offices, and other clinics that provide safe sex and contraceptive counseling often provide free condoms and other barrier methods of contraception with no questions asked.

These clinics offer reduced rates for services (medical appointments) and much lower fees for prescription contraception than you might find at your local pharmacy. This is a great option when you are without medical insurance because the fees are determined by your level of income. 

Where can you buy birth control?

All non-prescription forms of birth control can be purchased at local drugstores, bigbox stores (like Walmart or Target), larger grocery stores, health clinics that offer safe sex and contraceptive counseling, and online.

Do not purchase any prescription medications online! These are illegal and usually counterfeit. It is not worth risking your health to try to save some money!

The other forms of birth control (pills, rings, and patches) will require a prescription. These options can be purchased through a local pharmacy or from a clinic such as Planned Parenthood.

Please remember that not all forms of birth control can provide protection against sexually transmitted infections. The only kind of birth control that also protects against STIs are male and female condoms. Secondly, these forms of contraception can only be used to block sperm (not stop fertility), so they are not always 100% guaranteed. 

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