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    How to Get Birth Control: Pills and More

    Updated 03 February 2023 |
    Published 02 April 2019
    Fact Checked
    Reviewed by Anna Klepchukova, Flo chief medical officer, UK
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    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. 

    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. 

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