Birth Control via an App

By Ceridwen (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.0 fr (], via Wikimedia Commons

While access to birth control is steadily improving, but there are still a few things a woman should be aware of before proceeding. The issue of whether to allow hormonal contraceptives to be sold over the counter continues to be in debate, an access-improving development has quietly taken root without attracting any controversy. There are an array of new apps and websites make it easy for women to get prescription birth control pills in many states without having to visit the doctors.

Apps for Birth Control

Thanks to new game-changing programs offered by Nurx, Virtuwell, Maven, Lemonaid and Prjkt Ruby, women can answer questions about their health online or by video; the information the women provide is passed along and reviewed by a doctor or nurse practitioner who will write a three-month prescription for birth control that the patient can pick up at a nearby pharmacy or have delivered to their home.

The services are offered to women who are currently taking birth control pills, as well as those who have no prior experience taking oral contraceptives. As an alternative, in a small number of states, you can have a video visit with a Planned Parenthood clinician who will prescribe oral contraceptives.
With these types of digital programs, “the primary benefit is increased access to contraception,” states Dr. Nathaniel DeNicola, an OB-GYN at the University of Pennsylvania and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists expert on mobile and social media. He further said, “The hope is that this will increase utilization of some forms of contraception and improve birth control adherence and compliance, which is an enormous issue.”

Birth control adherence and compliance is important because 45 percent of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended, according to a 2016 report from the Guttamacher Institute, a leading research and policy organization that’s committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights, based out of New York City.

In recent times, there has been a big push to improve access to contraceptives nationwide. Under the Affordable Care Act, private insurers are increasingly covering the costs of oral contraceptives, which means minimizing or eliminating the financial barrier. Many of the apps and online programs accept medical insurance including Medicaid and will charge a modest fee for their services; for people who don’t have insurance, birth control pills can be ordered for as little as $15 per month through these options.


While some doctors are concerned that easy access to hormonal contraceptives without an office visit would leave women to think they can blow off OB-GYN visits, others don’t feel that way. Dr. DeNicola views these types of services as providing another touching point to traditional care. He states, “The real promise of telemedicine is that it doesn’t replace traditional medical care-it augments and enhances it. There are physicians and nurse practitioners involved with these apps and websites and they must follow telemedicine regulations.


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