When I talk with friends and family about my job as a nurse practitioner at Virtuwell, I get a lot of questions about how online care works. I usually explain that it’s like urgent care, but online. Then I give them some examples of what we can help with, which includes everything from treating pink eye and sinus infections to providing birth control.

As soon as I mention birth control, I get even more questions. And I love answering them.

Birth control pills, patches and rings are safe ways to prevent pregnancy and control the timing of your period. And alongside appointments or video visits with women’s health experts, online clinics like virtuwell.com can help you get any of those options conveniently. Here are some of the most common questions I hear about getting birth control online.

Is it safe to get birth control online?

Yes, at Virtuwell we only treat common conditions that are safely diagnosed without an in-person visit. We follow the same medical standards shared by clinics and hospitals.

Do I need to download an app or do a video interview for a birth control appointment?

No, you’ll answer questions using a smartphone, tablet or a computer. This makes it really quick and private. The service does not require video or any app downloads. If you have questions about your prescriptions, our team of nurse practitioners is available to help.

Can I order birth control online without a doctor’s prescription?

Yes, you can get a birth control prescription online without a doctor through Virtuwell. Just answer a few questions and we’ll help you select your best birth control option and send a prescription to your pharmacy.

Do I need insurance to get a prescription for birth control online?

No, if you don’t have insurance, you can pay by credit card. A birth control visit at Virtuwell costs $79. And, if you have insurance, we’ll bill your insurance company for you.

You will pick up and pay for your prescription at the pharmacy, just like if it had been prescribed to you during a typical clinic visit.

Can I get free birth control online?

Virtuwell doesn’t control the cost of your birth control. Your birth control prescription cost will depend on your insurance. Your prescription may be completely covered, or the price may be reduced.

How do online clinics handle blood pressure questions for birth control?

This is probably the most common question I get! Here’s the scoop.

If you’re new to birth control or starting up again, we’ll ask you to check your blood pressure reading in 3 months. You’ll need to return to Virtuwell to complete another interview with your latest blood pressure reading, the same as if you had visited your doctor in person.

The reason? Hormones used in birth control can increase blood pressure. This is more likely to happen in the first couple of months (and this is the best way to make sure that hormonal birth control is safe and right for you).

If your blood pressure is normal and you aren’t having any issues with your birth control, we’ll prescribe a one-year refill.

If you are already on hormonal birth control and are just looking to switch brands, we will give you a one-year refill as long as you have a recent normal blood pressure reading. We can help you find locations that offer free readings. Usually these are available at nearby pharmacies.

We prescribe three types of birth control online: patches, pills and rings. Getting a birth control prescription online is a convenient option, especially for people who need short-term contraception while evaluating long-term contraceptive options.

Can I get my IUD online?

You’ll need an in-person visit with an OB-GYN to get long-term contraception like an intrauterine device (IUD). This is because an IUD needs to be inserted by a medical professional. However, you can schedule a video visit with an OB-GYN or midwife to discuss how IUDs and other options compare for your particular needs.

Can I buy emergency contraception online?

Depending on your situation, Virtuwell can prescribe emergency contraception or recommend an over-the-counter option. If you get a prescription for emergency contraception, you’ll need to pick it up at your pharmacy.

Are there any age restrictions?

You need to be between the ages of 18 and 39 to get birth control through Virtuwell. If you are under 18, you’ll need to schedule an appointment with a doctor. Under Minnesota law, these appointments can be confidential.

Who can use Virtuwell?

Virtuwell serves 13 states, including:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Iowa
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Dakota
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin

And bills 19 insurance companies, including:

  • HealthPartners
  • Cigna
  • Medica
  • Anthem
  • Preferred One
  • Assurant
  • Aetna
  • WPS
  • United Healthcar
  • Olmsted Count
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • UMR
  • UCare Choice
  • EssentiaCare
  • McLaren Health Plan Community
  • Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative
  • Americas PPO

Find the right option for you

Birth control comes in many forms, and it’s worth taking the time to figure out which one fits your needs best. Fortunately, you have online options that make it easy and convenient to do so.

If you know that you’d prefer short-term contraception, Virtuwell can be your next step. And if you have additional questions, concerns or are interested in long-term contraception, expert guidance from an OB-GYN or midwife is just an appointment away.