Over-the-counter birth control
In the US, it’s not currently possible to get hormonal birth control over the counter. However, a few states (including Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia) make it possible to get hormonal birth control prescribed directly by your pharmacist rather than a doctor.
There are several non-hormonal options you can get over the counter at a pharmacy, though. These include male and female condoms, spermicide and the sponge.
Planned Parenthood and sexual health clinics
Sexual health clinics like Planned Parenthood provide a number of services related to sexual health, including contraception and emergency contraception.
When you visit a sexual health clinic all your details will be treated confidentially. This includes any information provided by young women and children who are between the ages of 13 and 16 years. Sexual health clinics will never contact your family about your visit or your contraception use. You can take a friend with you to your appointment if you feel like it.
If you’re visiting a sexual health clinic for the first time, you should expect to be asked to provide some basic details about yourself like your name, date of birth and contact details. You may be asked about your past contraceptive use and sexual health history, and certain clinics may offer to test for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Getting birth control from your doctor
The traditional way of getting hormonal birth control was to make an appointment with your doctor or gynecologist.
Typically, you may be asked some questions about your sexual health history and what your expectations are about birth control, especially if you’re consulting for the first time. There are roughly 15 methods of contraception, including combined pills, mini pills, skin patches and implants, so finding the right one can come down to a chat between you and your doctor. All methods have their advantages and disadvantages, and you can always switch if a particular method isn’t working for you.
Your doctor will prescribe birth control after a basic consultation. Even if you’re under the age of 16, your doctor will treat the information you provide as entirely confidential. As long as they believe you fully understand the information you’ve been provided with, then getting contraception is no more difficult than if you were older. They will not tell your family you’ve sought birth control, unless they feel you’re in danger.
Drug stores and pharmacies
You can take your prescription for birth control to drug stores like Wallgreen’s. The main birth control methods you’ll get in a pharmacy are those which can be self-administered, like the combined or mini pill, patch or ring. For things like the implant or IUD, a doctor or sexual health nurse will need to fit them.
In some states, pharmacists are able to prescribe birth control, so you can get your prescription done at the same time as your shopping.
Getting contraception from Safeway
Many large supermarkets like Safeway also operate in-store pharmacies, where you can have your prescriptions processed. Using an in-store pharmacy can be convenient and accessible for a lot of people.