Can I get birth control without my parents knowing?

Condoms are the best choice, but prescription birth control pills may also be available


Why you may need birth control

The decision to have sex for the first time shouldn’t be taken lightly. You should be 100%  comfortable with your partner, and really want to do it yourself, not because someone else expects you to or because it’s socially cool to do so. For American teenagers, the average age during a first sexual encounter is about 17, and by the time they graduate high school, over 50% have had intercourse. Whether it happens a little earlier or a bit later doesn’t matter, as long as there is comfort and joy in the experience. 

Sex comes with two major risks; sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and unwanted pregnancy. These risks need to be managed, which means knowing your partner well and practicing safe sex. Using condoms is a great option, as it protects you from STIs and pregnancy.  Condoms are widely available in stores and there’s no age restriction on obtaining them. Anybody can buy condoms and it’s so common nowadays that you won’t get any weird looks or questions. 

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Let’s say you have a long-term boyfriend, whom you are monogomous with and completely trust. The question of sex without a condom may eventually come up. STIs may not be a concern, but pregnancy certainly is. Keep in mind that timing sex within your menstrual cycle, or using the withdrawal method (pulling out the penis shortly before ejaculation), just doesn't work.  Therefore, if you want to stop using condoms, you’ll need to find another method of birth control.

Understandably, this may not be the sort of topic you can easily bring up with your parents, even if you have a great relationship with them. You are encouraged to try to broach the subject and see where it takes you. However, if you are sure that your parents won’t support you in this endeavor, and are 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 prevent pregnancy after a broken condom, accidental semen discharge, or other emergencies. Pills like Plan B are available over the counter (OTC) and don’t require a prescription.  What's more, they can be taken up to 72 hours after the emergency event. As the name indicates, this pill is intended only for emergencies and shuold not be used regularly. Using these pills frequently will make your period irregular and unpredictable,  

If you are looking for standard 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. Many states have special clinics called Title X clinics, which offer confidential consultations and prescriptions. Some states are considerably 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 like.     


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. This means that when the monthly bill comes, they may find out that you obtained a birth control prescription or saw a doctor without them knowing. Each insurance company has a different approach to itemizing monthly statements. Call your insurance company to find out if your birth control will show up on monthly statements, and whether it can be left out or hidden.

If that’s not an option and you can’t use your family insurance plan, you can still go to a title X clinic. Aside from providing prescriptions, they also sell birth control pills and will charge you according to your ability to pay. You may qualify for a discounted rate or a complete cost waiver.

Again, the best strategy may be to get your parents involved and explain to them that you need birth control. If that's just not possible, a title X clinic may be the next best option.



  1. 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.
  2. 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.

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