Your Step-By-Step Guide To Getting Birth Control

Photographed by Francena Ottley.
These days, it seems like there's a never-ending stream of discouraging legislation in the news that threatens our reproductive rights and access to birth control. This is, unfortunately, the world in which we live today. To people who have uteruses, this can make it even more difficult to navigate the already complicated healthcare system and get the medications that you need, such as birth control.
Of course, as we've said before, birth control does way more than just prevent pregnancy. Birth control can reduce severe period symptoms, help manage gynecological conditions such as endometriosis, and possibly even prevent cancer. Despite what conservative lawmakers do and say, birth control is a crucial aspect of women's healthcare. There are many different types of birth control — from the pill to condoms to emergency contraceptive pills — and a few different ways to get it.
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If you're overwhelmed by your options or unsure how to get your hands on birth control to begin with, here's what you need to know:

Get a prescription.

Last month, you might've heard that the "Beyoncés of birth control" (Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Rep. Katie Hill, Rep. Ami Bera, and Sen. Patty Murray) introduced a bill that would make an FDA-approved over-the-counter birth control affordable. At the moment, this sort of OTC medication doesn't exist, so you have to get a prescription for birth control medications. You can get this from your doctor, a student health clinic, or a healthcare provider at a Title X-funded clinic, such as Planned Parenthood. You might need to get a pelvic exam during this appointment, but otherwise your healthcare will just talk about your life and medical history, according to Planned Parenthood. There are also websites, such as Nurx and The Pill Club, that allow you to connect with a doctor online and receive a prescription — although the specific laws surrounding that type of service vary from state to state.

Determine the right method for you.

While most of us picture of a monthly pack of pills when we think about birth control, there are way more options than just hormonal birth control pills. There's an intrauterine device, aka "IUD," a birth control shot, a patch, and an arm implant. All of these various methods have different pros and cons that vary depending on your other health conditions or lifestyle. It's so worth it to talk to your doctor or healthcare provider so they can help determine which option is right for you. And be patient: it might take some trial and error to find the right method for you.

Find a way to pay for it.

Of course, cost is a big factor when you're deciding what kind of birth control method to use. If you have health insurance (or you qualify for Medicaid), then under the Affordable Care Act, you can have your insurance company cover the cost of your birth control pills — and usually the cost of the doctor's appointment to get them, too. (However, some specific brands of pills might not be covered.) But if you find that an IUD is the best choice for you, then those can cost between $0 to $1,300, according to Planned Parenthood. Although IUDs are typically covered by insurance, you'll have to pay for the appointment to have it inserted (and potentially removed, too).
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