Women may now be able to order birth control from their local pharmacy or even straight to their home address by simply using a new app. All women need to do is answer a few questions about their health or create a video answering the questions provided by the app and they will be sent a prescription for the birth control, providing the doctor who reviews their information feels they are an appropriate candidate.
At the moment, there are several apps that do the job. The most popular are Lemonaid, Nurx, and Maven, as well as one that Planned Parenthood has created itself. The Planned Parenthood App also allows women to have a video UTI appointment and be prescribed antibiotics via their phone.
Some of the apps charge women for the convenience, but the payment is nominal. Lemonaid, for example, charges each patient $15 to review her information before passing it on to a doctor for review and then the pharmacy. This $15 is likely less than many people’s co-payments to see their doctor, making the apps affordable as well as convenient.
The apps are perhaps most convenient for teenagers who are engaging in sexual activity. Studies show that young women aged 15-19 are the least likely to use birth control. Among reasons cited for their lack of use was the fear of judgement or stigma from their family, or family refusal to take them to see a gynecologist.
Although young women in California and Oregon can have a birth control prescription simply written up by a pharmacist, this will still make birth control for young women even more readily available. While teen pregnancy in the US has been on a sharp decline for several decades, many hope that the apps will push the numbers down even further.
The convenience and shame factor isn’t only good for young women, but for women of all ages. As women get old and wrapped up in their work life, errands like making a doctor’s appointment and going to the pharmacy to refill that prescription might fall by the wayside. The app is there it make sure that doesn’t happen.
Anna Scanlon is an author of YA and historical fiction and a PhD student at the University of Leicester where she is finishing her degree in modern history.