Everything you need to know about getting birth control online
Your cost, convenience and re-fill questions all answered
When I talk with friends and family about my job as a nurse practitioner for virtuwell.com, 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… pink eye... sinus infections… birth control.
As soon as I mention birth control, I get even more questions. And I love answering them.
Birth control pills, patches or rings are a safe way to prevent pregnancy and control the timing of your period. And 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, 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?
No, you’ll answer questions using a smartphone 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 are available around the clock, day or night.
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. Using virtuwell costs $45 per visit. If you do have insurance, we’ll bill your insurance company for you. There is no cost if virtuwell can’t prescribe birth control 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.
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 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 nearby pharmacies or fire stations.
Can I get my IUD online?
You’ll need a face-to-face visit if you’re ready for long-term contraception. We can prescribe three types of birth control online: pills, patches or rings. Online clinics are a great option if you find yourself in a relationship where you need a short-term contraception option. Or, if you are looking for short-term birth control until you have time to evaluate the long-acting reversible contraceptive options out there.
Is emergency contraception available?
Yes, we can recommend emergency contraception in your treatment plan, either over-the-counter or prescription.
Are there any age restrictions?
You need to be between the ages of 18 and 34 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.
Ready to get started? Nurse practitioners are here to help you, day or night.
About Gwen Verchota, PhD, APRN-BC
Gwen Verchota is the Care Delivery Manager at HealthPartners’ online clinic, virtuwell.com. She's a leader in creating safe, effective online treatment plans. And she loves leading a team of nurse practitioners that’s passionate about providing convenient, personalized care. Outside of work, you’ll find Gwen golfing, downhill skiing and cheering on the Minnesota Wild with her husband and two kids. She can’t wait to get her kayak out on the lake at the cabin they’re building in Walker, Minn.