Have you been wondering what your options are when accessing emergency contraception “Plan B” during the pandemic? Do you know how you would access emergency contraception if you needed it? Access might look a little different now, but birth control is an essential form of healthcare, and there are still ways to obtain it among changes in health clinic operations and shelter-in-place orders. In this post, we will provide you with ways you can access emergency contraception during the pandemic.
Things to know
It’s recommended to use emergency contraception within 72 hours of unprotected sex, or if you suspect your method of birth control may fail or has failed — like a broken condom or missed contraceptive pill — and it works by preventing the release or fertilization of an egg. It doesn’t prevent the implantation of an egg that’s already been fertilized, and it can’t cause an abortion.
Austin Women’s Health Center has stopped providing emergency contraception until further notice in order to limit the number of people visiting our clinic, thus helping limit the spread of illness. But we know preventing pregnancy is still important — especially during the pandemic where millions have lost their jobs, are struggling without childcare, and when our government officials have outright banned abortion access in Texas. However, the situation is still evolving, so please contact us with questions and we will try our best to assist you.
Ask your doctor to call in a prescription
While some doctors may want to examine a patient in-person before providing care over the phone, established patients may find their doctor can call in a prescription for emergency contraception to their local pharmacy — and some insurance plans also might pay for it. Choosing a pharmacy that has a drive-through allows you to avoid exposing yourself to potential illness by remaining in your car, and if your insurance doesn’t cover it (or if you don’t have it), you can see if GoodRx has a discount at a participating pharmacy (or store) in your area.
Most grocery stores and pharmacies sell emergency contraception
Stores like Walmart, HEB, CVS, Walgreens, and Target provide emergency contraception in their pharmacy area, and they often sell generic versions that work just as well but are more affordable (Walmart and HEB both sell a generic version of Plan B for less than $11). Both grocery stores and pharmacies are considered essential businesses under shelter-in-place orders — and accessing emergency contraception is absolutely essential, so you can go if you feel comfortable, just remember to adhere to social distancing and good hygienic practices to stay safe!
Locate a Title X clinic
Health clinics participating in the federal grant program Title X are required to provide services to anyone who needs it, regardless of age, citizenship, or how much money you have. Locate your closest Title X clinic by clicking here, and ask if they can screen you for financial assistance for emergency contraception. They can also provide you with other forms of birth control, too.
If you’re over 18, you’ll most likely be asked to show proof of income, like a pay stub, but you won’t be turned away over an inability to pay. Those under 18 can access confidential services (meaning they won’t tell your parents, and you don’t need their permission) without showing any proof, but you’ll be asked for an ID if you have one.
Keep in mind that clinic operations may be affected due to coronavirus. Some may not be operating at all, and some may have reduced availability. Some may be screening for symptoms of illness before entering the building and over the phone. You can ask about any changes in protocols when you call!
After an initial telemedicine consultation of $30, Nurx can send your pharmacy a prescription for emergency contraception — but you’ll still be responsible for the cost of the medication set by the pharmacy. Nurx can also provide Elle emergency contraception, which may be helpful for those weighing more than 165lbs.
If you have access to an Amazon Prime account, you can buy generic versions of emergency contraception for around $10 by searching for “My Choice” or “My Way.” But because of delays in shipping among the pandemic, you might not be able to access it in the time it’s most effective. However, purchasing emergency contraception ahead of time can still be helpful in the event the need arises later on, and it can also help by limiting the amount of exposure to illness by not going into stores.
Using birth control pills as emergency contraception
If you’re unable to access emergency contraception in person and already have a supply of birth control pills, some people — under the guidance of a doctor — take additional doses that provide the amount of levonorgestrel within emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy. But it may cause some additional side effects compared to typical Plan B, and because the dosage depends on your type of contraceptive pills, it’s a good idea to contact your regular physician over the phone before trying this method. They can also make sure you’re provided with an additional supply of pills for later if you need it.
While using contraceptive pills already does provide you with protection, if you’re concerned you’ve missed a dose, or feel more comfortable using emergency contraception as back-up following unprotected sex, this can be an effective way of preventing pregnancy.
Also, if you are unsure what kind of emergency contraception is right for you please check out our article here or call our office and we will do our best to assist you.