Birth control comes in many forms. From pills to condoms to hormone shots, it can be confusing to know what you need and where you should go to get your birth control. There are several places that provide birth control, depending on the type you want and what you can afford. Here's a look at where to find what you need.
Where to Find Condoms, Sponges and Spermicide
You can purchase some types of birth control at retail grocery stores and drugstores. These types of birth control include:
Condoms (both male and female)
You don’t need a prescription or to be a certain age to buy birth control at these stores. In addition, health clinics may give out condoms for free.
Where Can I Find Other Types of Birth Control?
Most other types of birth control are only available through a private doctor or at health clinics. These include:
Cervical cap and shield
Hormone patches and the pill
Permanent birth control methods
A doctor, such as a family practitioner, primary care doctor, or obstetrician-gynecologist (Ob-Gyn), can examine you, make birth control recommendations, and write you a prescription. Other healthcare providers who can prescribe birth control include certified nurse midwives, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants. You can call the provider's office to find out if he or she prescribes birth control.
If you don’t have a current doctor or you don’t have health insurance, you can visit a community-based clinic, such as Planned Parenthood, or a federally funded health center.
Planned Parenthood is a nationwide organization that runs health clinics and provides contraception to anyone. Planned Parenthood has more than 800 health centers in the United States, as well as clinics around the world.
Federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) are community health clinics funded by the U.S. Federal Government. They provide free and low-cost primary and preventive health care, including birth control. FQHCs are staffed by healthcare providers, such as doctors and nurse practitioners, who can examine you and provide prescriptions for birth control.
Free Birth Control Methods
Fertility awareness methods (FAM), also called natural family planning (NFP) and the rhythm method, don't require a doctor's visit or trip to the drugstore. However, the rhythm method is only 75% effective at preventing pregnancy. For NFP, you track your fertile times of the month (using body temperature and cervical mucus monitoring) and restrict any unprotected sex during those times. The withdrawal method, when a man removes his penis before ejaculating, is another type of birth control that is free and accessible to everyone. The withdrawal method is slightly more effective (~80%) than the rhythm method.
Talk to your doctor or visit a health clinic to learn more about getting effective birth control at a price you can afford.