The No-Nonsense Series to Getting Started on Birth Control: Part 3 of 3
In case you’ve missed the previous series on getting started on birth control..
Part 3: Where to get birth control
So, I’ve decided I want to try birth control pills – how do I get them?
Most US states require a prescription to get birth control. This means having a consultation with your doctor or at a nearby clinic, and filling the prescription at the pharmacy every one month or three months.
There are also new online services like Nurx, which allows you to get a virtual consultation with a doctor, free prescription and pill delivery. This cuts out the burdensome doctor’s and pharmacy visits every three months.
What about all the brand names? And what are generics?
Hundreds of pill names can get confusing, especially with branded vs. generics. Here’s an example: the most commonly prescribed pill has a generic name of ‘Norgestimate-Ethinyl Estradiol’ and it is commonly sold under the names Sprintec, Mononessa, Ortho Tri-Cyclen, Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo, Ortho-Cyclen, Previfem, Sprintec, Tri-Lo-Sprintec, TriNessa, Tri-Previfem, Tri-Sprintec. No wonder things can get confusing quickly.
The brand name pill is the one originally discovered and developed by a pharmaceutical company . To reward their investments they get a number of years of patent protection. After that time period other companies can start making ‘generic’ products with the same recipe. Generics are bioequivalents of the branded drugs and bioequivalent is the medical expression for ‘having the same active ingredients’.
Scientific studies have shown no difference in efficacy or Fioricet side effects between branded and generics. So if you’re paying a high copay for a brand name that has a generic, ask your healthcare provider about switching to a generic. Even without insurance, there are pills available for $15/month.
How much does birth control cost?
The ACA (Affordable Care Act) mandates that insurers cover at least one type of birth control. That means that there should be at least one pill that is completely free to you. The best way to find out which one that is, is to call your insurance company and ask them. Unfortunately, sometimes that type of pill doesn’t fit your health profile. If that is the case, you can talk to your doctor online or in person.
If you don’t have insurance, there are birth control pills from as low as $15/month, and if you use a telemedicine provider such as Nurx, the personalized doctor’s consultation to get the prescription is completely free.