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Where to get birth control from

Where to get birth control from

Over the years contraceptive availability has become more widespread. There are a number of ways to get hold of your chosen contraceptive ranging from the more traditional routes, such as through your GP, through to online pharmacies and even over-the-counter.

All women should feel that they are able to make use of contraception should they want to, and on this page we’ll discuss the various ways to access birth control. If you’ve ever wondered how to get the pill or what’s the most convenient place for you to go, we’ll let you know all your options.

Daniel Atkinson
Medically reviewed by
Daniel Atkinson, GP Clinical Lead
Table of contents
Medically reviewed by
Dr Daniel Atkinson
GP Clinical Lead
on October 28, 2022.
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Getting contraception in person

It’s possible to get hold of your contraception through various routes. Your options can depend on what type of contraception you prefer.

  • Over-the-counter general sales – condoms and emergency morning after pill
  • Prescription medication (prescribed by a doctor or prescribing clinician and dispensed by a pharmacy) – combined pill, mini pill, or ring.
  • Long-acting reversible contraception – usually a small procedure carried out by a healthcare professional in a clinical environment. E.g. Intrauterine device (IUD), contraceptive implant or coil (IUS).

It isn’t just doctors who can issue prescriptions for hormonal contraception. Prescribing pharmacists and nurses can also write a prescription when they see fit.

In 2021 the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) announced that desogestrel mini pills, Hana and Lovima, are available to be bought without a prescription in the UK. It is possible that methods of contraception will be available without a prescription in the future in Australia.

At the moment, combined oral contraceptive pills are not available over-the-counter.

Sexual health clinics, also known as family planning centres, genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics or reproductive clinics, provide a number of services related to sexual health – including contraception and emergency contraception.

When you visit a sexual health clinic all your details will be treated confidentially. This includes any information provided by young women and children who are between the ages of 13 and 16 years. Sexual health clinics will never contact your family about your visit or your contraception use. You can take a friend with you to your appointment if you feel like it.

If you’re visiting a sexual health clinic for the first time, you should expect to be asked to provide some basic details about yourself like your name, date of birth and contact details. You may be asked about your past contraceptive use and sexual health history – certain clinics may offer to test for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

The contraception you’re provided with should always be free, and if you decide on certain types of contraception, such as the implant, you may need to return later for a second appointment .

You can also get hold of contraception via a GP appointment with Medicare. You can talk to your local GP or practice nurse about getting hold of contraception. Most combined pills are PBS listed so can cost as little as $6.40, and as long as you have a Medicare Card, your choice of contraception will most likely be subsidised.

Typically, you may be asked some questions about your sexual health history and what your expectations are about contraception, especially if you’re consulting for the first time. There are roughly 15 methods of contraception, so finding the right one can come down to a chat between you and your doctor. All methods have their advantages and disadvantages, and you can always switch if a particular method isn’t working for you.

Your GP will prescribe birth control after a basic consultation. Even if you’re under the age of 16, your doctor will treat the information you provide as entirely confidential. As long as they believe you fully understand the information you’ve been provided with – then getting contraception is no more difficult than if you were older. They will not tell your family you’ve sought contraception, unless they feel you’re in danger.

You can take your prescription for contraception to high street pharmacies such as Chemist Warehouse, Priceline and other local pharmacies.

The main contraceptive methods you’ll get in a pharmacy are those which can be self-administered, like the pill or ring. For things like the implant or IUD, a doctor or sexual health nurse will need to fit them.

Getting contraception online

It’s also possible to get your pill online in Australia. If you want to order contraception online, you’ll normally need your prescription for this. You can use the electronic prescription service if the pharmacy offers it or send it your copy of the paper prescription.

Some online pharmacies do allow for Medicare prescribing services, meaning you may be able to renew a Medicare prescription using a nominated online pharmacy as most pharmacies will price medicines based on the PBS.

If you want to get contraception online, you’ll likely have to answer some questions about your general health. A medical professional will then review your responses and prescribe birth control if they are satisfied that it is safe to do so. Sometimes, the cost of consultation, prescription, medication and delivery are all included in one price.

Buying contraception online can be more preferable because it is sometimes quicker, more convenient and more discreet than doing so in person.

Buying contraception safely online

It’s important to make sure you buy medications online safely. There are some checks you can perform to ensure where you’re buying from is the real deal.

  1. In Australia, online pharmacies must be registered with the Pharmacy Board of Australia which is part of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra). You can search the practitioners name on the site.
  2. Online pharmacies can also be registered with The National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards. They perform audits of clinical processes and safety procedures and give ratings based on certain criteria.
  3. Who is prescribing your medication? Doctors who prescribe in Australia must be registered with the Medical Board of Australia, and independent prescribers and pharmacists must be registered with the PBA in order to safely prescribe medicine – including contraception.

If something doesn’t feel right then it’s probably best to take a pause before you go ahead and place an order.

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