Where Can You Get Contraception?
At Your Doctor
Many types of birth control are prescription-only, so if you want the pill, a diaphragm, the patch, etc., you’ll have to go to your doctor (or a clinic). You can ask your doctor about contraception when you go in for a physical, or make a separate appointment for a consultation. Although many states have laws which give minors access to contraception without telling their parents, some do not. Find out what your state law is at Guttmacher.org.
At the Drugstore
There are many types of contraception that can be purchased over-the-counter at most drugstores. Condoms and female condoms are usually available at the drug store (although female condoms might be a little harder to find). You can also purchase spermicides and the contraceptive sponge without a prescription.
Availability of prescription contraceptives at drugstores is a huge issue right now. In some parts of the country, pharmacists are refusing to fill prescriptions for Plan B (emergency contraception) or even birth control pills. Some states have passed laws protecting a pharmacist’s right to do this, but the American Pharmacists Association says that they are still supposed to pass the prescription to another pharmacist who is willing to fill it.
If you need emergency contraception and don’t know where to get it, there is a toll-free hotline, 1-888-NOT-2-LATE that you can use to find the nearest providers in your area.
At a Clinic
Clinics are a great place to go if you have questions about or want to get contraception. The workers are trained to help teenagers and are really knowledgeable about sex. Even if you don’t feel comfortable asking your parents or friends questions about sex, you will probably find the answers to your questions at a clinic. It’s like going to a doctor, except that clinics tend to be less formal. You don’t need an appointment and a lot work on a sliding rate scale, which means that you pay only what you can. You won’t be turned away from a clinic if you can’t pay.
Clinics often distribute different types of contraception. You can go and see what kinds they offer, discuss the positive and negative aspects of each, and they’ll help you decide which is best. Though it would be great for you to discuss your choice with your parents, a clinic leaves that decision up to you and does not require parental consent.
Planned Parenthood is a clinic that has centers all around the US. To find a Planned Parenthood clinic near you, check out their website PlannedParenthood.com. For other clinics in your area, check out The Yellow Pages for more listings.
At your School
Getting contraception at school may be more difficult, depending on your school’s approach to sex education. Schools that teach abstinence-only education will most likely not make any type of contraception available to students. However, there are some schools that offer over-the-counter methods, like condoms, female condoms and spermicides. Many will not be able to do the job of a clinic or doctor, because they are not properly trained, so you cannot get prescriptions or personal fittings at a school.
The best way to find out what your school has available is simply to ask your school nurse or sex educator. They will be able to fill you in on what options are open to you at school, and if they are very limited, these people may be able to tell you the best place in your area to get contraception.