For most birth control pills, you can get refills by giving your pharmacy your name and prescription number – which is usually printed on the pill packet. It’s important to keep these details handy as it will make the process much quicker.
Certain methods of birth control like the birth control implant and intrauterine device require a doctor’s visit. Here are a few ways to get your birth control refill without going to the doctor:
1. Call Your Pharmacy
If you’re running low on birth control, call your pharmacy to order a refill. Most prescription labels show the number of refills left and a cutoff date. Most pharmacies have a phone number and automated menus that can be called 24/7 (though you may have to wait for the pharmacy to open). If you don’t want to make that call in public, some apps let you order your medication online.
Many states have laws allowing pharmacists to dispense hormonal birth control without a doctor’s prescription. But the law hasn’t always been well-enforced, and pharmacists have faced pushback from their employers. For example, a Walgreens pharmacist in New Mexico refused to fill a woman’s prescription for birth control because it went against her religious beliefs.
In response, some states have taken action by passing legislation that requires objecting pharmacists to refer patients to other pharmacies or provide them with alternate medications. Other states have required pharmacists to notify their superiors if they refuse a patient’s prescription for medical reasons. And a few telemedicine companies have launched services that send birth control pills, rings, and patches to your home after a virtual visit with an expert physician. These are available in some states and can be used with most insurance plans. One such company, Alpha, is currently offering free shipping and gifts with every order.
2. Go to the Pharmacy
Many big chain pharmacies like CVS, Rite-Aid, and Walgreens—and some superstores, too—keep electronic prescription records for you. This means you can go to any one of their stores and pick up nail polish, gum, laundry detergent, or your birth control pill without having to wait for the pharmacy to call your doctor’s office. This is especially handy if you’re in college away from home or travel frequently.
If you have insurance, and your birth control is on the list of covered drugs, you may not have to pay a copay. You can also ask your doctor to write a vacation refill, which will allow you to pick up your birth control even if you don’t have any remaining refills on file with your doctor.
You can get birth control pills and other forms of hormonal contraception online without seeing a doctor, too. The telehealth service Nurx pairs you with a medical professional who will review your health assessment and send you a birth control prescription for an initial $15 fee. The company has free shipping and works with most insurance plans (though not all of them).
Other telehealth companies, like Alpha, offer birth control delivery programs that deliver birth control pills to your doorstep after you complete a virtual appointment with a doctor. The Hers site requires a doctor to approve your request after reviewing a health questionnaire, and you can choose between one-time orders or recurring deliveries.
3. Go to the Doctor’s Office
Many women are finding it difficult to get to their healthcare providers during the coronavirus pandemic, especially if they need a birth control refill. In these situations, telemedicine offers a safe and convenient alternative.
With telecontraception, you can visit an online doctor via video chat to discuss getting your birth control prescription filled or switching to another type of contraceptive. Your provider will then send the prescription to a pharmacy or mail-order service, and you can get your birth control delivered right to your door.
You can get a prescription for birth control pills, the hormone patch or the vaginal ring from an online visit. You can also get a prescription for long-acting hormonal birth control methods like intrauterine devices or implants, though these usually require an exam and a follow-up appointment.
Hers, Lemonaid and SimpleHealth are a few online birth control delivery services that can give you your prescription through a virtual visit or after filling out a health survey. These services can work with your insurance, have free shipping and may have special promotions for first-time customers. You could also ask your workplace about a medical expense flexible spending account, which allows you to set aside money for certain health care costs before the IRS taxes it. This can be an excellent option for low-income individuals who might otherwise not be able to afford their medication.
4. Go to a Telemedicine Appointment
There are several telehealth services that make it easy to get a birth control refill. These companies typically require a medical consultation before sending out medication, which usually involves filling out an online form or talking to a doctor over the phone. Most of these services are able to provide prescription services in every U.S. state, but they may not offer all forms of birth control.
The cost of a telemedicine appointment for a birth control refill can vary depending on the service, but many are affordable without insurance. Some of these telehealth services also offer monthly plans that include automatic refills and free delivery. They can even work with a person’s flexible spending account (FSA), which allows them to use money set aside from their paycheck before taxes for health care expenses.
In addition to a birth control refill, telehealth services can also be used for other health-related matters, such as STI testing and treatment. Some studies have shown that telehealth providers do just as good of a job as in-person physicians when it comes to prescribing birth control, STI treatments, and even UTI medications. In addition, some telehealth services have additional benefits, like text or email reminders about appointments and refills, and some can even help a person find a nearby pharmacy that accepts their insurance.