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New Apps Let Women Obtain Birth Control Without Visiting a Doctor 301

HughPickens.com writes: With nearly 40 percent of all pregnancies in the United States unintended, birth control is a critical public health issue. For short-term methods, visiting the doctor for a prescription can be time-consuming and sometimes costly and for some, like teenagers, it can be intimidating or embarrassing. Now Pam Belluck reports at the NYT that a growing assortment of new apps and websites now make it possible to get prescription contraceptives without going to the doctor as public health experts hope the new apps will encourage more women to start, or restart, using contraception and help reduce the country's stubbornly high rate of unintended pregnancies, as well as the rate of abortions. At least six digital ventures, by private companies and nonprofits, including Planned Parenthood, now provide prescriptions written by clinicians after women answer questions about their health online or by video. All prescribe birth control pills, and some prescribe patches, rings and morning-after pills and some ship contraceptives directly to women's doors. "At first I didn't believe it," said Susan Hashem, who wanted to restart birth control pills without missing work for a doctor's appointment. Hashem used an app called Lemonaid and paid $15 for a doctor to review her medical information and send a pill prescription to a local pharmacy. "I thought it was just a setup to get money," Hashem said. But after she answered the health questions one evening, "a doctor actually contacted me after office hours," and the next morning, she picked up three months' worth of pills.
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New Apps Let Women Obtain Birth Control Without Visiting a Doctor

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  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Friday June 24, 2016 @10:42PM (#52386695)
    the last time I threw out my back I had to go see a doc for flexeril. The drive was incredibly painful and the entire thing only served to put $200 bucks in the guys pocket. It was literally less than useless. Add to that the cost keeps a lot of low income people away from meds they already know they need. Mix this with an online pharmacy and people the the deep South surrounded by Bible thumpers trying to keep them away from the evils of Birth Control can finally live the way they want.
    • by nbauman ( 624611 )

      Flexeril (cyclobenzaprine) is a dangerous drug. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] It's not that effective and I think you were saying it wasn't effective at all.

      In some patients, particularly the elderly, it causes confusion, delerium and hallucinations, from which patients take a long time to recover, if they recover at all. An article in JAMA Internal Medicine described how the author's mother died from complications of cyclobenzaprine. http://archinte.jamanetwork.co... [jamanetwork.com] “Mom, you have to trust me

      • because it stops the muscle spasms. When I injured my back the trouble was the spasms kept it from healing. I have very, very limited side effects when I'm on it (bit hard to pee, being a muscle relaxant and all). Without it it takes weeks for me to heal enough to sit in chair. With it I'm up and running in a few days. After that I'm off the stuff. At least for me it's a wonder drug.

        I agree a doctor needs to make sure nothing's going wrong, especially with the elderly. But a $15 call on a smart phone and
  • by rsmith-mac ( 639075 ) on Friday June 24, 2016 @10:59PM (#52386755)

    I'm strongly in favor of overall greater access to birth control. But I have to say that when it comes to starting any kind of hormonal birth control, I'm uneasy about the idea of doing so without the supervision of a doctor or other medical professional.

    In my case I had to go through three different types of pills before I found a pill that worked well for me. The first two left me, well, hormonal and while it wasn't terrible, it also wasn't a pleasant experience. Especially compared to how much better things were once I finally found a pill that worked. There are a number of different pills on the market for a reason; not everyone responds to a given formulation the same way. And this is where the doctor was a great help, as she was able to tell me what was and wasn't normal, use my experiences to suggest other options. I suppose from a technical perspective any pill will do - they all seem to pause fertility - but the side effects can be a real pain.

    This is why I'm uneasy about anyone starting a new birth control regimen without supervision. Certainly once you're established and happy, you should be able to get new packs as you please (including ordering extra for trips and such). And this is definitely something that needs to be fixed as it's harder than it should be. But starting without a physician seems like a poor idea to me. I feel like it's doing a disservice to others who will be lead to think the processes is easier than it actually is.

    • by LostMyBeaver ( 1226054 ) on Friday June 24, 2016 @11:30PM (#52386859)
      Odd, I highly doubt my credentials to capably identify how professional a practitioner of medicine is in the field of my needs.

      I tend to think of them as being like computer technicians and computer scientists... just because you're practicing as a doctor doesn't mean you don't suck at it. Almost universally, "general practitioners" are the least likely people to go back to school for further education while remaining isolated in their own practice.

      No thank you! I'd honestly rather read a book/web page and just risk it. Takes less time and if I break myself at least I didn't have to have some guy grab my balls and say cough
    • This is why I'm uneasy about anyone starting a new birth control regimen without supervision

      Who said anything about without supervision? And why would said supervision require you to say ahh and have something stuck down your throat.

      They ask the same questions and put you on your prescription. If it doesn't work for you, go to a doctor. You're no worse off than before and definitely no less supervised, unless you have some special doctor which follows you around all day and makes house calls for you.

      • by nbauman ( 624611 )

        They ask the same questions and put you on your prescription. If it doesn't work for you, go to a doctor. You're no worse off than before and definitely no less supervised, unless you have some special doctor which follows you around all day and makes house calls for you.

        The main risk of hormonal contraceptives is having a stroke. If you make a mistake, and have a stroke, you could wind up with half your body paralyzed for the rest of your life.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      It's the lesser or two evils. Ideally you would go to a doctor, but if for some reason you can't or unwilling to then an app is better than unwanted pregnancy.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It helps if you read the article. You *are* under the care of a physician. Furthermore, when starting someone on birth control, 99% of the time I start with the same pill (Sprintec - monophasic, cheap, widely available, and generally well tolerated), and if not tolerated, use trial and error to find other pills that work. For the majority of my patients, the process is as easy as: 1. Ask for OCP prescription 2. Fill Sprintec prescription 3. Go on with life.

      In many European countries, birth control is over t

    • by nbauman ( 624611 )

      The biggest problem I could identify with those apps is that the most effective contraceptives require a doctor's visit.

      The most effective contraceptives are the implant with a failure rate of 0.05% per year. The pills are pretty far down with 5-10%. https://www.cdc.gov/reproducti... [cdc.gov] http://www.ashasexualhealth.or... [ashasexualhealth.org]

  • by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Friday June 24, 2016 @11:07PM (#52386789) Homepage Journal

    With nearly 40 percent of all pregnancies in the United States unintended, birth control is a critical public health issue.

    Wow, that statement really makes you want to click and read the text. It's emotional and powerful.

    While an unintended pregnancy is a serious issue, note that the US fertility rate [google.com] is now 1.88 births per woman. The replacement rate for population is about 2.1 (births per woman, depends on the geographical area: percentage of births that live to adulthood).

    If we can eliminate the 40% of all births that are unintended, the US population would drop off a cliff. This is already a problem for many areas such as Japan [google.com] and Germany [google.com].

    The term critical [dictionary.com] means "pertaining to or of the nature of a crisis", with "crisis" being " time when a difficult or important decision must be made" (with reference to: emergency, catastrophe, calamity, and doomsday).

    This is an improvement and one I heartily support.

    Nevertheless, calling the situation a "crisis" is a bit melodramatic... don't you think?

    • If universal, perfectly reliable contraception were available, perhaps breeding would become something like greatly prolonged jury duty: No-one wants to do it, but someone has to endure the personal inconvenience to keep society running.

      Or maybe we'd see a sort of cultural Idiocracy? Natural selection in humans would take a very, very long time - but cultural selection can be potentially much more rapid. If the well-educated liberal couples have 1.0 women per child, and the backwards superstitious hicks hav

      • I'm sure if the state covers all expenses involved in raising a kid you'll get plenty of volunteers, no need to draft people.

    • by scamper_22 ( 1073470 ) on Saturday June 25, 2016 @10:41AM (#52388349)

      Everything has ups and downs.

      Is a falling population a tragedy.

      Lower costs of education, childcare, probably crime...

      The cost of supporting 'old people' in terms of healthcare and retirement based on younger workers sounds like a reason to have more kids... but last I checked, jobs in general are a problem in most countries.

      It's not magical young people that pay taxes... it's young people with good jobs.

      And if the government is going to be spending money to create jobs for young people and stimulate the economy, are you really in any worse position to just spend that money taking care of old people directly.

      You have issues with a falling population. But it's not kind of automatic crises. Certain industries will face problems. There are powerful lobbies as well.... banking, housing, mortgages... that depend on population growth as well.

  • apples 30% cut is to high and an app base medical planes under the ADA can't spend that much on admin.

  • Don't buy this chewing gum - it tastes like rubber.

  • The money grubbing health cartel gets to keep their mitts in the loop this way; in plenty of countries one can walk into a store and buy birth control pills with nothing needed but money (and about a tenth of what is required here). The benefits of allowing that for the majority far outweigh any risks to a very few (cue med student who will wail the standard B.S. against why that shouldn't be allowed, but those concerns don't apply to 99%+).

Genetics explains why you look like your father, and if you don't, why you should.

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