Contraception Thursday February 4, 2016

Contraceptives Delivered To Your Door: USA vs. UK

How useful would it be to have contraceptive pills delivered to your door, all courtesy of an app? In the USA some companies are doing this without the need for a doctor's prescription and without much opposition.

How does it work?

Online clinics and apps in the USA, such as Maven and Nurx, offer a service that allows women to get a prescription and order their contraceptive for home delivery. The service is free when covered by health insurance, otherwise there is a charge.

It's much the same as here in the UK, the difference is that hormonal birth control is breaking down some barriers in the USA. Some states such as Oregon, with California soon to follow suit, no longer require women to get a prescription from a doctor before being issued the pill. They are able to order it directly from a pharmacist.

What do people think about it?

There's little opposition to this change in the USA. Studies have shown that women can be relied upon to accurately report symptoms of ill health that affects their suitability for the pill, such as high blood pressure. For example, 400 women in Seattle filled out a questionnaire on their suitability for oral contraception and 90% of their answers tied up with insurance provider details.

A further study of 1200 Texan women showed much the same. They filled out a medical checklist of factors and, when examined by a nurse, they found the women were able to identify conditions that made oral contraceptive use dangerous. This particularly applied to younger women.

Dr J Conti, clinical instructor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Stanford University, realises that it's difficult for some women to get to a doctors surgery or pharmacy for more pills stating that 'services like these have the potential to remove an additional barrier to obtaining birth control'.

What about the UK?

The pill is the most popular form of contraception in the UK. It's 99% effective and offers other benefits such as reduced period pain, acne control and a lower risk of some cancers. There are however a few potential side effects to bear in mind.

It's possible to safely buy contraceptives online in the UK. You still need a prescription, but that's not to say the prescription has to come from your family GP. Responsible online pharmacies offer free online consultations with a qualified doctor who will decide if you are suitable before dispensing a prescription. Then your contraception is delivered to you via a registered pharmacy.

It can't be denied that birth control delivered to your door after a quick order on an app or website is much more convenient than making a doctor's appointment in working hours for a prescription every three months, and then having to take that prescription to a pharmacy.

Increasingly our lives are made simpler by the internet. People expect quality services and to buy goods online, including medical supplies.

How long before both the UK and USA no longer require women to obtain a prescription for the pill? It seems a likely next step now that a visit to the doctor has become optional. It may be an effective way to relieve some of the burden on our NHS.


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