Why you may need birth control
The decision to have sex for the first time shouldn’t be taken lightly. You should really want yourself, not because someone else expects you to or because it’s socially cool. You also need to be 100% comfortable with your partner. For Americans teenagers, the average age for having first sex is about 17 and by the time they graduate from high school more than 50% had first sexual experiences. For some, it may be a bit earlier, for some a bit later. That doesn’t matter, as long as you are comfortable with it and enjoy it.
Sex comes with two major risks: namely sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unwanted pregnancy. You’ll need to manage these risks. This includes knowing your partner well and practicing safer sex. Using condoms is a great option, as it protects you from STIs and pregnancy. They are widely available in many stores and there’s no age limit. Anybody can buy condoms and it’s so common nowadays that you won’t get any weird looks or questions.
Now, let’s say you may have a long-term boyfriend with whom you’ve had sex for over a year now and you completely trust him. The question of stopping using condoms may eventually come up. STIs aren’t a big concern since you both don’t have other sex partners, but pregnancy still is a serious risk. Don’t even think about “timing the sex right” within your menstrual cycle or pulling out the penis shortly before ejaculation. None of this works well. If you want to discontinue condoms, you’ll need to find another birth control.
Understandably, this isn’t the sort of topic a girl can easily bring up with her parents even if she has a great relationship with them. You are encouraged to try to scope out the subject with your mum and see where it takes you. But if you feel sure that your parents won’t support you at all but you’re still determined to get birth control pills, there may be other options.
Options for getting birth control pills without parental consent
Firstly, there are emergency “morning-after pills” like Plan B, which are meant to avoid pregnancy after a broken condom, accidental semen discharge, or other emergency. Pills like Plan B are available as over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and there’s no age limit — this means you don’t need a prescription— and can be taken until up to 72 hours after the emergency event. However, as the name says, this pill is intended only for emergencies and not to be used regularly. Using these pills frequently will make your period irregular and unpredictable, which isn’t considered to be healthy.
If you are looking for regular birth control pills (or patches or vaginal rings), you’ll need to get a prescription. In some U.S. states, minors (people under 18) can get birth control prescriptions from doctors without parental consent. Web apps like Sex in the States allow you to look up what the legal situation in your state is like. For example, in New York state minors can get birth control prescriptions without permission from their parents. There are special clinics, called Title X clinics, which offer confidential consultations and prescriptions. These clinics can be found in many states. However, some states are stricter. In Mississippi, for example, a minor can only get a birth control prescription if she is already married or already a parent herself. So, you’ll need to carefully check what the regulations in your state are saying.
How to pay for birth control pills?
Your health insurance most likely will cover birth control, but as a minor, you’ll be under your parents’ plan. So, when the monthly bill comes, they may find out that got a birth control prescription or so a doctor without them knowing. Each insurance company has a different approach to itemizing the monthly statement. Call your insurance company to find out how your birth control would show up in the documents and whether it can be left out or hidden somehow.
If that’s not an option and you can’t use your family insurance plan, you can still go to the Title X clinics. Aside from giving prescriptions, they also sell birth control pills and the price changes with your economic ability. You may qualify for a discounted rate or a complete cost waiver.
Again, the best strategy will be to get your parents involved and convince them that you should get birth control. It may take some time, but eventually, they may come on board. Only if that doesn’t work, Title X clinics are your next option.
Cavazos-Rehg, Patricia A., et al. “Age of Sexual Debut among US Adolescents.” Contraception, vol. 80, no. 2, Aug. 2009, pp. 158–162, www.ncbi.nlm.nih .gov/pmc/articles/PMC3064497/, 10.1016/j.contraception.2009.02.014. Accessed 15 Mar. 2020.
Frost, Jennifer J., and Laura D. Lindberg. “Trends in Receipt of Contraceptive Services: Young Women in the U.S., 2002–2015.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine, vol. 56, no. 3, Mar. 2019, pp. 343–351, 10.1016/j.amepre.2018.10.018. Accessed 15 Mar. 2020.