Birth control available online
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About online birth control
Birth control is designed to prevent pregnancy. Your choice of birth control should depend on several factors, including your overall health, sexual activity, and individual preferences. Your doctor can help you choose the best option for you. Whether you’ve been taking birth control for years or are just starting, getting a birth control prescription online is convenient, affordable, and discreet.
What birth control does
Birth control, also known as contraception, is designed to prevent pregnancy. Birth control methods may work in a number of different ways, including: preventing sperm from getting to the egg or preventing ovulation from occurring.
Types of birth control methods available online
There are many different types of prescription birth control that are available to women online.
Some of the most commonly used methods of birth control include:
Oral contraceptives (birth control pills)
Birth control pills include combination pills, which contain estrogen and progestin, and the progestin-only pill.
IUD (intrauterine device)
IUDs are t-shaped devices that stop eggs from implanting in the uterus. They need to be inserted by a medical professional, which requires a visit to the doctor's office. There are hormonal and non-hormonal IUDs.
Birth control implant
Implants are small, rod-shaped devices that can last up to 5 years. The implant releases hormones to prevent pregnancy. Like IUDs, implants require a visit to the doctor's office.
Birth control shot
The Depo shot is a progestin injection that you get once every 3 months. Progestin prevents pregnancy by preventing ovulation and thickening the cervical mucus. The shot is a safe, convenient, and effective method of birth control if you get it regularly.
Birth control patch
The transdermal contraceptive patch releases hormones through the skin to prevent pregnancy. Like most oral contraceptives, the patch contains estrogen and progestin to stop ovulation.
The vaginal ring is a small, soft, plastic ring placed inside the vagina. It releases estrogen and progestin into the bloodstream to prevent pregnancy.
Emergency contraception is oral medication that can be taken shortly after unprotected sex to reduce chances of pregnancy.
Birth control pills
Talk with your doctor about which pill option would work best for you. Factors that can affect your choice include:
Whether you’re breastfeeding
Other chronic conditions or medications you’re taking
Combination birth control pills
Combination pills contain synthetic forms of the hormones estrogen and progesterone (called progestin in its synthetic form). Estrogen controls the menstrual cycle.
Combination pills come in a 28-pack. Most pills in each cycle are active, which means they contain hormones. The remaining pills are inactive, which means they don’t contain hormones. There are several types of combination pills:
Monophasic pills: These are used in 1-month cycles. Each active pill gives you the same dose of hormone. During the last week of the cycle, you can take (or skip) the inactive pills, and you still have your period.
Multiphasic pills: These are used in 1-month cycles and provide different levels of hormones during the cycle. During the last week of the cycle, you can take or skip the inactive pills, and you still have your period.
Extended-cycle pills: These are typically used in 13-week cycles. You take active pills for 12 weeks, and during the last week of the cycle, you can take or skip the inactive pills and have your period. As a result, you have your period only three to four times per year.
Progestin-only birth control pills
Progestin-only pills contain progestin (synthetic progesterone) without estrogen. This type of pill is also called the minipill.
Progestin-only pills can help decrease bleeding in people with heavy periods. You should also avoid estrogen if you’re over 35 and smoke, as this combination can increase your risk of developing a blood clot.
With progestin-only pills, all pills in the cycle are active. There are no inactive pills, so you may or may not have a period while taking progestin-only pills.
Examples of brand-name progestin-only pills include:
How birth control pills work
Combination pills work in two ways:
First, they prevent your body from ovulating. This means your ovaries won’t release an egg each month.
Second, these pills cause your body to thicken your cervical mucus, the fluid around your cervix that helps sperm travel to your uterus so it can fertilize an egg. The thickened mucus helps prevent sperm from reaching the uterus.
Progestin-only pills also work in a few different ways. Mainly, they work by thickening your cervical mucus and by thinning your endometrium. Progestin-only pills may also prevent ovulation.
When taken correctly, the pill is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. This means that fewer than 1 in 100 who use the combined pill as contraception will get pregnant in 1 year.
Side effects of birth control pills
While birth control pills are safe for most people, they do come with some side effects and risks. Side effects can include:
Decreased sex drive
Spotting or bleeding between periods
Increase in vaginal discharge
If you have these side effects, they will likely improve after a few months of using the pill. If they don’t improve, you should talk with your doctor. They may suggest you switch to a different type of birth control pill.
Birth control pill risks
A serious risk of using birth control pills, especially combination pills, is an increased risk of blood clots. This can lead to:
Deep vein thrombosis
Overall, the risk of a blood clot from using any kind of birth control pill is low. However, the risk of a blood clot from the pill is higher for certain groups. This includes those who:
Have high blood pressure
Are on bed rest for long periods
If any of these factors apply to you, talk with your doctor about the risks of using a birth control pill.
Birth control implants
A birth control implant is a type of hormonal birth control. In the U.S., it’s sold under the brand name Nexplanon. It was previously available under the name Implanon. It releases progestin hormone into the body to prevent pregnancy.
The implant itself is a small plastic rod about the size of a matchstick. A doctor or other healthcare professional will insert it into the upper arm, right under the skin.
How birth control implants work
The implant slowly releases a progestin hormone called etonogestrel into the body. Progestin helps prevent pregnancy by blocking the ovaries from releasing an egg. It also thickens cervical mucus to prevent sperm from entering the uterus.
If you get the implant during the first five days of your period, it’s immediately effective against pregnancy. If the implant is inserted at any other point, you should use a backup form of birth control, such as condoms, for seven days.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), less than 1 out of every 100 people using the implant became pregnant.
How to use the birth control implant
The contraceptive implant is inserted under the skin of the upper arm. The implant releases a progestin hormone to prevent sperm from reaching the egg. The implant typically suppresses ovulation as well. Our doctors can refer you to a specialist for in-office insertion.
Birth control implant side effects
Some people may experience side effects from the implant, but many people don’t. Irregular menstrual bleeding is the most common side effect. Periods may also become lighter, heavier, or stop altogether.
Other side effects can include:
An infection where the implant was inserted
Side effects usually go away after a few months and are rarely serious.
Birth control implant risks
Serious complications with the birth control implant are rare, but it’s still important to know about the potential risks.
Improper insertion, which can lead to the implant making its way into a blood vessel
Injury to nerves or blood vessels if the implant breaks
Increased risk of serious blood clots
IUDs (intrauterine devices)
An intrauterine device (IUD) is a small, T-shaped device made of plastic that’s placed inside your uterus to prevent pregnancy.
They provide long lasting, reliable protection against pregnancy, and they’re reversible. There are two types of IUDs: hormonal and non-hormonal.
Hormonal IUDs contain the hormone progestin, which is similar to progesterone, a naturally occurring hormone in your body. Each brand contains a different amount of the hormone, which affects how long they last. Examples of hormonal IUDs include Kyleena, Liletta, Mirena, and Skyla.
The only non-hormonal IUD available in the U.S. is ParaGard, the copper IUD.
How IUDs work
Each type of IUD works a bit differently, but has the same function: making it difficult for sperm to reach an egg.
ParaGard is wrapped in copper coil. The copper ions released into your uterus create an environment that’s inhospitable to sperm. The copper essentially leaves sperm powerless, so it can’t fertilize an egg and get you pregnant.
The hormonal IUD works to prevent pregnancy in a few ways. It thickens cervical mucus to block sperm from entering the uterus and inhibits sperm movement to make it harder to reach and fertilize an egg. It also thins the uterine lining, so an egg is less likely to attach to the uterus.
IUDs are over 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. This means that less than 1 out of every 100 people using an IUD will become pregnant in a year.
How to use an IUD
IUDs must be inserted by a medical professional. Once inserted, there is not much needed from the patient, other than routine checkups to ensure it's correctly placed. To insert the IUD, the nurse or doctor will put a speculum into your vagina and then use a special inserter to put the IUD in through the opening of your cervix and into your uterus. The process usually takes less than five minutes.
IUD side effects
Cramping and backaches are common within the first few hours to a few days after IUD insertion. You may get some relief from both by taking OTC pain relievers, using a heating pad, or taking a hot bath. Spotting can also be common and should stop within 3 to 6 months.
IUDs are safe for most, but having certain conditions can increase the chances of side effects and complications.
IUDs aren’t recommended for people who:
Have an STI
Have a recent history of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
May be pregnant
Have cervical or uterine cancers
Had an infection following an abortion or childbirth in the past 3 months
Also, ParaGard isn’t recommended if you:
Are allergic to copper
Have a bleeding disorder that prevents your blood from clotting properly
Have Wilson’s disease
Hormonal IUDs shouldn’t be used by people who’ve had breast cancer.
Other possible risks include:
Infection: There’s a small risk of infection after insertion. The risk is highest (though still very low) in the first 20 days, and then it drops significantly.
Expulsion: There’s a slight chance that your IUD could shift out of place. Using a menstrual cup, being under the age of 20, and never having been pregnant can increase the risk of expulsion.
Perforation: There’s a very low risk of perforation during insertion.
Birth control shot (Depo Provera)
Depo-Provera, commonly referred to as the birth control shot or “Depo shot”, is the brand name of the medication depot medroxyprogesterone acetate, or DMPA . DMPA contains progestin, a synthetic hormone that works like progesterone, the female sex hormone.
How the Depo shot works
The shot works by blocking ovulation, the release of an egg from the ovaries.
The progestin in the injection also thickens the cervical mucus to help prevent sperm from getting through the cervix to the egg. This thickening of the cervical mucus offers additional protection against pregnancy, in the unlikely event that ovulation happens.
For some people, getting a shot every few months is more convenient than taking a pill every day, but you still have to follow the shot’s timeline closely to effectively prevent pregnancy.
Here’s how it works:
The shot prevents ovulation for about 14 weeks. You can go a maximum of 15 weeks between shots before the shot no longer prevents pregnancy.
Your clinician will likely recommend scheduling your appointments every 12 to 13 weeks. You can get your next shot before the previous one “expires.”
If more than 15 weeks have passed since your last shot, and you have penis-in-vagina (P-in-V) intercourse, you may become pregnant.
To prevent pregnancy, you’ll need to use a backup method until you can get your next shot and for seven days after the shot. If you have P-in-V intercourse without a backup method, you can use emergency contraception to help prevent an unplanned pregnancy.
The birth control shot has a 99% efficacy rate.
Depo Shots available by prescription include:
Depo-Provera: The standard formulation delivered by an injection into a large muscle of the shoulder or buttocks
Depo-subQ Provera: A newer formulation delivered by injection under the skin of the abdomen or thigh
How to use the Depo shot
If you have the Depo shot that you can give yourself at home, you will inject yourself in your belly or upper thigh. You'll get instructions that show you how to give yourself your shot. Otherwise, you will go into your doctor's office to receive the Depo shot.
Depo shot side effects
The shot affects everyone differently, and it can cause a number of side effects.
Weight gain and changes in your menstrual cycle are the most common side effects, according to 2021 research.
Some people who use the shot notice their periods become lighter over time or completely stop after several months of use. However, other people using the shot might have longer, heavier periods. Spotting or bleeding between periods, is also common.
Other possible side effects include:
Abdominal pain, bloating, and nausea
Feelings of nervousness, anxiety, or irritability
Decreased sex drive
Breast pain and tenderness
People assigned female at birth can still use the shot to prevent pregnancy while taking gender-affirming hormones, like testosterone.
Because the shot can lead to a decrease in bone density over time, some experts recommend getting the shot for only 2 years or less, especially if you can use other methods of birth control.
Depo shot risks
The shot isn’t right for everyone. A doctor or clinician typically won’t prescribe the shot if you have:
An allergy or sensitivity to any ingredients in the shot
A history of blood clots
A history of breast, renal, or endometrial cancer
A family history of breast cancer
A high risk for stroke or heart disease
Unexplained vaginal bleeding
If you have diabetes or high blood pressure and want to get the shot, your care team will need to monitor your symptoms carefully. Hormonal birth control can affect both blood pressure and glucose tolerance, so if there’s any change in your condition, they may recommend another method.
Unlike birth control pills, which have to be taken daily, the vaginal ring only has to be inserted once a month. This makes it a low-maintenance form of birth control.
How the vaginal ring works
The vaginal ring prevents pregnancy by continuously releasing synthetic estrogen and progestin. These hormones prevent your ovaries from releasing eggs to be fertilized. The hormones also thicken your cervical mucus, which helps prevent sperm from reaching the egg.
Types of vaginal rings
There are 2 kinds of birth control rings: NuvaRing and Annovera.
Each NuvaRing lasts for up to 5 weeks. You take your old NuvaRing out of your vagina and put in a new one about once a month, depending on the ring schedule you choose.
One Annovera ring lasts for 1 year (13 cycles). You put the Annovera ring in your vagina for 21 days (3 weeks), then take it out for 7 days — Annovera comes with a case to safely store it during your ring-free week.
How to use the vaginal ring
Using the NuvaRing:
Insert 1 NuvaRing in the vagina and keep it in place for 3 weeks (21 days). Regularly check that NuvaRing is in your vagina (for example, before and after intercourse) to ensure that you are protected from pregnancy.
Remove the NuvaRing for a 1-week break (7 days).
Annovera is inserted for 21 continuous days and removed for 7 days for one year (13 cycles). Using thumb and index finger, squeeze the Annovera ring into a narrow oval shape. The Annovera ring can be inserted while lying down, squatting, or standing with 1 leg up.
If you use it properly, the vaginal ring can be very effective. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), typically only 7% of those who use the ring will get pregnant.
Vaginal ring side effects
Because a vaginal ring is a hormonal contraceptive, the potential side effects are similar to those of taking combination birth control pills.
They may include:
Reduced sex drive
Breast pain or tenderness
Spotting or bleeding in between your period
Vaginal ring risks
The vaginal ring slightly increases your risk of a deep vein thrombosis (blood clot), heart attack, or stroke. It may also lead to a tiny increase in your risk of breast cancer. The risk of developing breast cancer due to vaginal ring or pill use in people aged under 35 years is 1 in 50,000.
Certain medications and supplements can also reduce the effectiveness of the vaginal ring. These include:
St. John’s wort
The antibiotic, rifampin
Some HIV medications
Some antiseizure medications
If you take any of these, it’s a good idea to use a backup form of birth control.
Birth control patch
A birth control patch is a square-shaped plastic sticker. It’s applied to the skin on certain parts of the body to prevent pregnancy.
Two birth control patch brands are available in the U.S.: Twirla and Xulane. Both are extremely similar, except Twirla contains a slightly lower level of hormones.
How the birth control patch works
Each patch contains synthetic versions of two hormones: estrogen and progesterone.
When stuck to the skin, the patch releases these hormones and the skin absorbs them into the bloodstream.
The hormones prevent pregnancy by stopping the ovary from releasing an egg each month. They also thicken cervical mucus to block sperm from reaching the egg.
If you first use the patch between days one and five of your period, it’ll be effective immediately. But starting it at any other time means you’ll need a secondary form of contraception, such as condoms, for at least a week.
With perfect use, the patch is 99% effective. However, the efficacy rate drops to 91% for people who may not use it correctly consistently.
How to use the birth control patch
Apply a new contraceptive patch to your body each week, on the same day of the week, for three weeks in a row. Apply each new patch to a different area of skin to avoid irritation. Used patches can be discarded.
Birth control patch side effects
Side effects of the birth control patch may include:
Breakthrough bleeding or spotting
Breast pain or tenderness
Birth control patch risks
Some research shows that the birth control patch may increase estrogen levels in the body compared with combination birth control pills that are taken by mouth. This may mean there's a slightly higher risk of estrogen-related adverse events, such as blood clots, in patch users than in people who take combination birth control pills.
Birth control FAQs
How much is birth control?
The cost of birth control ranges from $0 to $50 a month. Birth control is completely free with most health insurance plans and government programs. In addition, our members have access to a prescription discount card that can heavily discount birth control costs, if not covered by your insurance.
How effective is birth control?
Most birth control methods, including birth control pills, the implant, IUDs, and the Depo shot have over a 99% efficacy rate. However, if not used correctly or taken at the same time consistently, the efficacy rates of the birth control pills and Depo shot are closer to 91%.
How does birth control work?
Hormonal birth control methods work in similar ways. They prevent your body from ovulating, which means your body will not release the egg necessary for pregnancy. In addition, they thicken your cervical mucus, preventing sperm from reaching the uterus. The non-hormonal copper IUD essentially leaves sperm immobile, so it can’t fertilize an egg.
How long does birth control take to work?
Different birth control methods differ in the time that they take to start working. Most birth control methods including combination pills, the implant, and hormonal IUDs are effective within five days, if you started the birth control within the first five days of your period. Otherwise, it takes seven days before these birth control methods are effective in preventing pregnancy. The non hormonal copper IUD is effective immediately following insertion.
Be sure to talk to your doctor about how long your birth control will take to work.
How can I get birth control online?
It is possible to buy birth control online by seeing a doctor for a prescription. Our board-certified doctors can prescribe birth control online. During an online consultation, you'll discuss your health history, lifestyle, and preferred method of contraception.
If contraception is right for you, your doctor will recommend a birth control method. IF prescribed, the birth control prescription of your choice will be sent to your local pharmacy for pickup. If you are interested in the birth control implant or IUD, our physicians will refer you to a local specialist for insertion.
How can I refill my birth control prescription online?
To refill your prescription online, book a virtual appointment with one of our top rated board-certified doctors. Our board-certified physicians can send your prescription to a local pharmacy, and birth control appointments can take as little as 15 minutes. If you are interested in the birth control implant or IUD, once prescribed, our physicians can refer you to a local specialist for insertion.
How late can a period be on birth control?
People may miss periods or stop getting periods altogether while on birth control, depending on the type of birth control. This can be due to how your body responds to the birth control, a change in birth control methods, stress, changes in diet or exercise, or possibly pregnancy. If you’re worried about a missed period on birth control, book an appointment with a doctor to get clarity.
What happens if you take birth control while pregnant?
Most studies have shown that there is little increased risk of harm to an unborn baby due to most forms of birth control. However, some research suggests that there may be a slightly increased risk of low birth weight or urinary tract concerns in newborns, if birth control pills were taken near conception.
Can I get birth control without a doctor?
Birth control options such as pills, the implant, and IUDs require a prescription from a doctor. However, you can get contraception methods such as condoms, spermicide, and emergency contraception without a doctor.
Can you get pregnant while on the pill?
Although it is possible to get pregnant while on the pill, chances of getting pregnant are less than 1% with perfect use and less than 9% with imperfect use.
Does birth control make you moody?
Hormonal birth control can cause mood changes. While some people find that their mood improves with hormonal contraceptives, others experience mood changes. However, there are non-hormonal birth control options.
Everyone responds differently to hormonal contraceptives, and you may need to try a few options until you find the one that suits you best.
Can you buy birth control over the counter?
You can buy contraception methods such as condoms, spermicide, and emergency contraception (Plan B) over the counter. Other options, such as pills, require a prescription. Some birth control methods, such as intrauterine devices (IUDs), must be implanted by a doctor.
If you're interested in birth control pills, book an appointment with a physician to learn more about online birth control options.
Can I get birth control online without an exam?
To get a birth control prescription online, you must see a doctor for an evaluation. However, this appointment can take as little as 15 minutes and be done from the comfort of your phone or computer. If you're interested in birth control, book an appointment with one of our trusted physicians to learn more about your options.
What birth control can I get for free?
If you have health insurance, you can get free birth control under the Affordable Care Act. If you don't have insurance coverage, you can get birth control for as little as $18/month.
If you would like to learn if you are eligible to get free birth control online, book an appointment with one of our world-class doctors and enter your health insurance provider.
What type of birth control is best?
The right birth control for you will depend on your overall health, lifestyle, and personal preferences.
The best types of birth control to prevent pregnancy are implants and IUDs, which are the most convenient and foolproof. Other methods, like birth control patches and pills, can effectively prevent pregnancy with perfect use.
Which birth control clears acne?
The best birth control for acne is the combination pill, which contains both estrogen and progesterone. These hormones work together to reduce the circulation of androgens (acne-causing hormones) in your bloodstream.
Currently, the only FDA-approved brands to treat acne are Yaz, Ortho Tri-Cyclen, and Estrostep. These brands contain estrogen in a low dosage but have different forms of progestin.
Our doctors may also be able to prescribe topical creams or antibiotics to use in conjunction with contraception for the best results. If you don’t see clearer skin after a few months, consider switching pills or looking into another form of acne treatment.
Speak to one of our doctors today to find the best birth control option for acne.
Do antibiotics affect birth control?
Most antibiotics do not affect birth control, but it's important to talk to your doctor if you have any birth control questions. To date, the only known antibiotic to affect birth control is rifampin, which is usually prescribed for tuberculosis treatment.
Which birth control causes weight gain?
Some people report minor weight gain (2–4 pounds) in the first few months of taking combination birth control pills.
However, studies show no evidence that birth control pills cause weight gain. Weight gain after starting birth control is usually related to fluid retention.
What is non-hormonal birth control?
Non-hormonal birth control is a form of contraception that does not contain hormones. In contrast, hormonal birth control uses hormones to prevent pregnancy.
There are several non-hormonal birth control methods, including:
The non-hormonal IUD
Internal and external condoms
Cervical caps and diaphragms
Spermicides and vaginal gels
If you're interested in non-hormonal methods, talk to one of our doctors to find the right birth control for you.
3 simple steps to getting birth control online
Book a birth control appointment online.
Book a same day appointment from anywhere.
Talk to your doctor online regarding your birth control options.
Visit with a doctor on your smartphone or computer.
Pick up your birth control prescription.
We can send prescriptions to any local pharmacy.
Online birth control pricing details
How pricing works
To request a new or refill on your birth control prescription, join our monthly membership and get discounted visits.
Paying with insurance
First month free
30 days of free membership
Same-day appointments 7 days a week
Unlimited messages with your Care Team
Prescription discount card to save up to 80%
Exclusive discounts on lab tests
Free memberships for your family
Visit price with insurance
Often the same as an office visit. Most patients with in-network insurance pay $30 or less!
We accept these insurance plans and many more:
Paying without insurance
First month free
30 days of free membership
Same-day appointments 7 days a week
Unlimited messages with your Care Team
Prescription discount card to save up to 80%
Exclusive discounts on lab tests
Free memberships for your family
Visit price without insurance
Initial visits are $129.
If we're unable to treat you, we'll provide a full refund.
PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information.
MedlinePlus. Birth control. Accessed on June 24, 2022. https://medlineplus.gov/birthcontrol.html#:~:text=Birth%20control%2C%20also%20known%20as,cervical%20caps%2C%20and%20contraceptive%20sponges
Office on Women's Health. Birth control methods. Accessed on June 24, 2022. https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/birth-control-methods
Planned Parenthood. Are Birth Control Pills Effective? Accessed on June 24, 2022. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/birth-control-pill/how-effective-is-the-birth-control-pill
PlushCare content is reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, nutritionists, and other healthcare professionals. Learn more about our editorial standards and meet the medical team. The PlushCare site or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.