Chances are you've seen an advertisement for Hims before. Affectionately nicknamed "the Glossier for dudes," Hims ads feature flaccid cacti against millennial pink backgrounds, hard-boiled eggs peeled to mimic male-patterned balding, and catchy phrases like, "Thanks to science, baldness is now optional." As the ads suggest, Hims offers generic erectile dysfunction medication, prescription hair loss treatments, and skincare products direct to consumers. And today, the brand has announced a women-specific counterpart, called Hers.
Like Hims, Hers will focus on a few areas of women's wellness: birth control, skincare, libido, and hair loss. For a low bundled price, users can connect with a physician, complete a digital assessment about their health history, and receive a prescription for a generic birth control pill, sexual desire medication, hair loss treatment, or anti-aging skincare cream. While all these products seem intriguing, getting cheap birth control through a website sounds pretty clutch, especially right now.
At a time when women's reproductive rights are being threatened, Hers is positioned to be a trusted resource for women who don't have access to healthcare providers or health insurance for whatever reason, Hilary Coles, the brand lead for Hers tells Refinery29. "We believe it's extremely important to reach women who lack options and provide them with purchasing power over their health," Coles says. There seems to be a real need for telemedicine when it comes to women's health, and recent surveys have found that more than 19 million U.S. women ages 13 to 44 don't have access to a public healthcare clinic in their county to get the full range of contraceptives, including intrauterine devices, implants, and the ring. Telemedicine companies have the potential to fill that gap for women who live in these "contraceptive deserts," explains Jennifer Johnsen a representative for the organization Power to Decide.
Compared to other direct-to-consumer birth control sites, like Nurx and The Pill Club, Hers' offerings are not as comprehensive. For example, Nurx lets you choose from over 50 brands of birth control, plus includes medications like HIV PrEP. The Pill Club also offers the NuvaRing and Patch in addition to oral contraceptives, and sends you goodies with each monthly shipment. Hers currently offers 10 generic oral contraceptives, but it focuses on those four areas of health mentioned. So right now, Hers is set apart by its hair and skincare products, plus of course, the cool factor.
But ordering your birth control from a trendy company just because it's new and exciting might give you pause — after all, many people count on their birth control for a number of important health reasons, including preventing pregnancy. The thing to keep in mind is that Hers isn't designed to replace your primary care physician or Ob/Gyn altogether. If you decide to use Hers, you'll have to report your blood pressure reading (which is an important factor when choosing a birth control), and answer questions about your family health history, abnormal bleeding, blood clots, and cancers. So, while Hers provides birth control (in cute packaging for $30), you'd still have to see a physician for your regular Pap smear, sexually transmitted infection test, or breast exam. And obviously, if you wanted to get an intrauterine device, birth control shot, or implant, you'd need to be there IRL.
Although telemedicine is a relatively new field, there are lots of state laws that oversee it, so you can feel pretty secure, Johnsen says. For example, telemedicine providers have to be licensed just like clinicians and pharmacists, and HIPAA laws still apply to telemedicine services. Plus, any company that provides birth control — including Hers — is supposed to adhere to the Centers for Disease Control's extremely specific guidelines and recommendations. If you want to do some further research on a direct-to-consumer pharmacies, the Food and Drug Administration has a database called Safe Rx that allows you to look up information to make sure they're legit and reputable, Johnsen says.
So far, Hers seems promising, although their offerings are limited right now and probably not for everyone. Still, it's exciting to know that there are more options available for people who need access to affordable birth control pills — and the fact that it comes in a chic millennial package is just an added bonus.