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Frequently Asked Questions

Birth Control

How can I get birth control?

Birth control describes a wide range of contraceptive methods used to prevent unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs/ STDs). When someone says "birth control", they often mean hormonal birth control pills, but it's helpful to know that this term describes a larger set of options. Some other types of birth control methods include:

  • Condoms
  • Vaginal rings (like NuvaRing)
  • IUDs (intrauterine devices such as Paragard)
  • Birth control shot (Depo-Provera)

Not sure which birth control option is right for you? Good news! Sesame offers convenient reproductive health services including:

  • Birth control consultations
  • Birth control prescriptions
  • Women's health services
  • IUD removal
  • Specialist referrals

Birth control subscriptions are commonly available through primary care providers or women's health centers (like OB/GYN clinics). Don't let your insurance plan tell you which doctor you have to see. Pick a provider you want to see and book your appointment on your schedule. It's that simple.

Health care providers on Sesame offer both in-person and telehealth family planning services at clear and affordable prices. Whether you need a new prescription or a refill of an existing prescription, you can save up to 60% when you book birth control services through Sesame- no health insurance needed.

What are the benefits of birth control?

Birth control is a low-cost, safe, and effective way of preventing unplanned pregnancies. Hormonal birth control pills are far less expensive than sterilization procedures such as tubal ligation or vasectomy and have the potential to be 99% effective, if used routinely. Birth control pills usually contain a combination of the hormones estrogen and progestin and provide a number of other benefits in addition to their contraceptive use. Birth control pills can help protect against:

  • Acne

  • Irregular or heavy periods

  • Bone thinning

  • Cysts

  • Cancer (such as endometrial and ovarian cancer)

  • Iron deficiency

  • Infections

Birth control pills do not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Not sure what type of birth control is right for you? Book a visit with a real, quality doctor on Sesame to talk about birth control options. In-person and telehealth visits are available. Save up to 60% on family planning services when you book through Sesame and get quality care at your convenience- no insurance needed.

How much does birth control cost?

The cost of birth control may vary depending on your insurance plan and the type of contraception you're looking for. Price ranges for common forms of birth control are:

Birth control pills: Birth control pills usually cost between $0-$50 per month. A prescription is needed for hormonal birth control pills, so you will need to have a consultation or physical with a health care professional before you can purchase this type of birth control. If you are uninsured, this visit can cost anywhere from $20-$100+.

Intrauterine device (IUD): IUDs must be inserted by a doctor, and can cost between $0-$1,300. An IUD is 99% effective in preventing unplanned pregnancies and can last anywhere from 3-12 years.

Birth control shots (Depo-Provera): Birth control shots contain the hormone progestin, which will prevent ovulation. Basically, this means that there will be no egg to fertilize, making pregnancy extremely unlikely. Birth control shots must be given every 3 months and can cost between $0-$150 per shot.

Vaginal ring (NuvaRing): Vaginal rings release hormones that prevent ovulation. Vaginal rings are 91% effective in preventing unplanned pregnancies but must be replaced every month. Vaginal rings (such as NuvaRing) can cost between $0-$200.

Not sure what type of birth control is right for you? Talk to primary care or women's health providers on Sesame to discuss options and costs. Doctors on Sesame can prescribe birth control for new patients, refill existing prescriptions, and help answer any questions you may have. Save up to 60% on birth control services with Sesame and book an in-person or video visit with a real, quality doctor in North Carolina.

Can you buy birth control pills over the counter?

If you are looking for birth control without a prescription, condoms (male and female) and spermicide can be purchased over the counter at most drugstores. Birth control pills must be prescribed before they can be purchased.

What is emergency contraception?

Emergency contraception (or morning-after pills) is a safe and effective method of birth control that is used after unprotected sex. The two most common forms of emergency contraception are:

Emergency contraception pills: Pills with ulipristal acetate (ella) or pills with levonorgestrel (Plan B) can prevent unplanned pregnancy if taken within 5 days of unprotected sex. ella is the most effective emergency contraception pill available, but requires a prescription for purchase. Plan B can be purchased over-the-counter at most major drugstores, but is most effective if taken within 3 days of unprotected sex.

Paragard IUD: A copper IUD is the most effective form of emergency contraception (99.9% effective if inserted within 5 days after unprotected sex). An IUD can prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex as well as provide birth control for up to 12 years after insertion. IUDs can cost up to $1000, depending on your health insurance.

Can I get birth control online?

Yes, you can! While you will need a prescription to purchase birth control pills, Sesame makes it easier than ever to get in touch with a reproductive health care provider in North Carolina. With affordable telehealth options, such as video birth control consultations, you can get in touch with a real, quality online doctor who can prescribe birth control for new patients. Need a prescription refill? Doctors on Sesame can refill your prescription during a quick video birth control consult without you ever having to leave the comfort of your home.

All prescriptions are at the discretion of your doctor.

Who should buy birth control online?

Sesame offers convenient and affordable telehealth birth control consultations for upfront, cash-pay prices. If you're having a hard time fitting a prescription refill visit into your busy schedule, or if you're not sure which doctor your health insurance will let you see, don't stress. Sesame makes it easy to get in touch with a real, quality doctor at prices up to 60% less than what you'll find through most insurance plans. Skip the copays and wait times and talk to a doctor right away for a new-patient birth control prescription or prescription refill.

Not sure what forms of birth control are right for you? Doctors on Sesame can talk to you about birth control options and answer any questions you may have. Birth control prescriptions can be sent to your local pharmacy for pick-up at your convenience. Don't sit around in a crowded clinic, book a convenient video birth control consultation with a primary care or women's health provider through Sesame and get quality care right away - no insurance needed.

Who prescribes the pill online?

All prescriptions are always at the discretion of your doctor.

Connect with a real, quality doctor on Sesame to learn more about which kind of birth control may be right for you. Sesame works directly with doctors - not insurance companies - to get you the medical care and advice you need for affordable, upfront prices.

What is the difference between birth control pills and condoms?

Birth control pills and condoms are both common forms of contraception: meaning that they can help prevent unplanned pregnancies. Condoms catch sperm ejaculated during sex, while oral contraceptives (birth control pills) use hormones such as progestin and estrogen to prevent ovulation. If no egg is present for sperm to fertilize, pregnancy cannot occur. Other common birth control methods include:

  • Intrauterine devices (IUDs)

  • Vaginal rings (like NuvaRing)

  • Birth control shots (with the hormone progestin)

While condoms protect against some sexually transmitted infections (STIs), birth control does not offer protection from STIs.

Birth control pills must be prescribed before they can be purchased. Condoms can be purchased at most convenience stores.

Hormonal birth control pills do have a number of side effects/ benefits in addition to their contraceptive uses. Because these oral contraceptives release hormones into the body, they can help women protect themselves against conditions such as:

  • Acne

  • Irregular periods

  • Bone thinning

  • Cervical/ ovarian cancer

  • Anemia (iron deficiency)

Questions about different types of birth control? Book an online or in-person visit with a health care provider on Sesame to ask any questions you may have or get a new prescription for birth control. Doctors on Sesame will consider your medical history and help determine what form of contraception is best for you. If you need a prescription refill, doctors on Sesame can send an order to your local pharmacy without the hassle of driving to a doctor's office.

Does birth control help reduce acne?

Hormonal birth control pills work by changing hormone levels in a woman's body to prevent ovulation and ease menstrual symptoms. Pills containing both estrogen and progestin can help reduce acne by decreasing hormones (androgen) that lead to the production of sebum (an acne-causing oil released by pores). Progestin-only oral contraceptives, such as Camila, will not help reduce acne.

The combination pills currently approved by the FDA to help treat acne are:

  • Yaz
  • Ortho Tri-Cyclen
  • Beyaz
  • Estrostep

Health care providers such as women's health specialists (OB/GYNs) or dermatologists can prescribe birth control acne medication. Connect with a real, qualified doctor on Sesame to learn more about your options. {{numberOfResults}} doctors on Sesame are available to speak with you for upfront, cash-pay prices.

Can I get a prescription for birth control online?

Yep! With convenient and affordable in-person and video birth control consultations, Sesame makes it easier than ever to speak to a doctor about birth control options from the comfort of your home. Get in touch with a primary care or women's health care provider on Sesame to discuss your medical history and lifestyle factors that will help determine what type of birth control is right for you. Doctors on Sesame can write prescriptions for new patients, or refill birth control prescriptions for those with existing prescriptions.

Save up to 60% on family planning services in North Carolina when you book through Sesame and get quality care at your convenience- no insurance needed.

Can I get a birth control prescription without an exam?

Depending on the state you live in, you may be able to get a prescription for birth control directly from a pharmacist. Call your local pharmacy to check if your state allows for access to birth control without a prescription from a health care provider.

If you do live in a state that allows pharmacists to prescribe birth control, you will be screened via a questionnaire and be asked to take a blood pressure test to make sure that you do not have any health conditions that might make taking birth control dangerous. High blood pressure, medical history of cancer, or poor cardiovascular health are all risk factors that make birth control potentially dangerous.

What is Nexplanon?

Nexplanon is an etonogestrel implant; a long-lasting method of contraception that releases hormones into the body to prevent ovulation. Commonly called "the birth control implant", Nexplanon is the only implantable birth control available in the US (an older model, Implanon, was discontinued in 2014). This contraceptive implant is made by the pharmaceutical company Merck Sharp & Dohme (a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc.)

A Nexplanon implant is about the size of a matchstick and is inserted into the upper arm by a health care provider as a quick outpatient procedure. The insertion process takes only a few minutes.

Once the implant has been inserted, it will release the hormone progestin. Progestin will thicken the mucus on the cervix, making it difficult for sperm to reach the egg. Additionally, progestin prevents ovulation, which is the process of eggs leaving the ovaries for fertilization. Stopping this process means sperm cannot reach the egg, making pregnancy impossible.

A Nexplanon implant is not permanent but lasts for up to 3 years. This hormonal contraceptive is 99% effective at preventing unplanned pregnancies, making it one of the most effective and long-term forms of birth control there is.

What are the most common side effects of Nexplanon?

Side effects related to a Nexplanon implant are generally minor and treatable. Nexplanon is an FDA-approved form of birth control that is generally considered effective and safe in preventing unplanned pregnancies. Because the implant releases hormones into the body, it may cause side effects related to hormone changes. The most common side effect of Nexplanon is a change in your menstrual cycle/ menstrual bleeding pattern. There may also be yellowing or jaundice at the insertion site. Other common side effects include:

  • Mood swings/ depressed mood

  • Back pain

  • Weight gain

  • Breast pain

  • Ovarian cysts

In some cases, side effects may be more severe. These side effects include:

  • Vaginitis (inflammation of the genitals)

  • Shortness of breath/ chest pain

  • Severe pain

  • Allergic reaction

These side effects are extremely rare and often brought on by preexisting health conditions. Before you receive a Nexplanon implant, it is important that you discuss your medical history with your doctor, as certain conditions may lead to severe reactions to birth control. Additionally, some herbal products (such as St. John's wort) have been shown to reduce the effectiveness of Nexplanon. Tell your doctor about any herbal products or medications you use before receiving a Nexplanon implant.

Nexplanon is not recommended for individuals with a medical history of the following conditions:

  • Blood clots in the leg (deep vein thrombosis)

  • Blood clots in the lungs (pulmonary embolism)

  • High blood pressure

  • High cholesterol

  • Heart attack

  • Unexplained vaginal bleeding

  • Breast cancer

  • Liver disease/ liver tumors

  • Gallbladder disease

Some women experience adverse reactions to hormonal birth control that releases estrogen and/or progestin. Nexplanon is not recommended for women who have had reactions to birth control pills.

Can I use Nexplanon while breastfeeding?

You can use Nexplanon when you are breastfeeding if you gave birth over 4 weeks ago. The hormones released by Nexplanon will make their way into breastmilk, but no effect has been shown in small children. If you are currently breastfeeding, talk to your doctor before getting a Nexplanon implant.

What if I become pregnant while using Nexplanon?

Pregnancy while using Nexplanon is extremely rare; only about 1 in 100 women become pregnant while using the birth control implant. In other words, Nexplanon is 99.9% effective in preventing unplanned pregnancies. Certain medications and herbal products, such as St. John's wort have been known to make the implant less effective, increasing the possibility of becoming pregnant. If you become pregnant while using Nexplanon, you have a higher risk of ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the womb).

If you experience unexplained vaginal bleeding or severe pain, contact your doctor right away. These may be signs of ectopic pregnancy.

How long does a Nexplanon implant last?

The Nexplanon implant will provide safe and effective birth control for up to 3 years. After 3 years, the device must be removed and replaced by a health care provider. If you change your mind, removal of the implant can be done at any time. If you have the implant removed, and don't want it replaced, it is recommended that you start using backup birth control as soon as possible.

In some cases, the implant will remove itself by falling out of the insertion site. If the implant comes out by itself, use backup birth control to prevent unwanted or unplanned pregnancies.

How long does it take for the Nexplanon implant to work?

The Nexplanon implant will start to work within 5-7 days after insertion. It is recommended that you use backup contraception in the first week after the implant, just to be safe.

After it has been inserted, the Nexplanon implant will work continuously for up to 3 years without having to be replaced. If you want to switch to another form of birth control or want to become pregnant, the implant can be removed at any time by a health care provider.

What is the difference between Nexplanon and other birth control methods?

Not all birth control methods are created equal! From IUDs to implants, contraception is meant to prevent unplanned pregnancies, but there are differences in the side effects and efficacy of each type of birth control.

Common birth control methods include:

Birth control pills: Like the Nexplanon implant, oral contraceptives release the hormones progestin and estrogen to thicken cervical mucus and prevent ovulation. DIFFERENCE: Most birth control pills release estrogen along with progestin, where Nexplanon only releases progestin. The estrogen in birth control pills can help treat acne, anemia, bone thinning, and irregular menstruation.

Condoms: Condoms prevent unplanned pregnancies by physically preventing sperm from entering the vagina. Like Nexplanon, condoms are used as contraception. DIFFERENCE: Condoms are not as effective as the Nexplanon implant at preventing unplanned pregnancies. The latex in condoms can rip or the condom can be improperly applied, increasing the risk of pregnancy. Unlike the Nexplanon implant, condoms can protect against STIs by covering the potentially infected area.

Intrauterine device (IUD): IUDs are tiny devices inserted into the uterus that prevents sperm from reaching and fertilizing an egg. Like the Nexplanon implant, these devices can last for several years and are 99% effective during that time. DIFFERENCE: Depending on the brand, IUDs may last for up to 12 years, where the Nexplanon implant must be replaced after 3. Additionally, copper IUDs do not release hormones into the body. The copper in the IUD creates inflammation in the vagina that is toxic to sperm, making fertilization nearly impossible.

How painful is the Nexplanon implant?

The process of getting the Nexplanon implant is pretty quick and painless. Before the implant is inserted, the doctor or nurse will get patient information such as medical history, and lifestyle factors (such as smoking, drug use, etc...) In some cases, they may ask to perform a physical exam to check for high blood pressure or abnormal growths (screening for cancers).

If Nexplanon is right for you, you will be given a shot of an anesthetic in your arm to help numb the inner side area of your arm (where the device will go). Once the small area is numb, the device will be inserted under your skin through a small tool.

You may experience some discomfort when you are given the anesthetic shot but shouldn't feel any pain when the device is actually inserted. Like an immunization, you may feel a dull ache for a day or so after the implant, but this pain should go away quickly. There may be yellowing or bruising around the insertion site, but this will also disappear in a few days.

NOTE: If you are experiencing persistent discomfort where the implant was inserted, or begin to experience symptoms such as headaches, back pain, or bleeding, contact your doctor right away. Some women experience allergic reactions to the Nexplanon implant and need to have it removed.

What are the pros and cons of Nexplanon?

Nexplanon is one of the most effective and long-lasting forms of birth control there is. This birth control implant is 99.9% percent effective and lasts for up to 3 years before it must be replaced. The insertion procedure is fairly quick (only taking a few minutes) and painless, and the implant will start to work within 7 days of insertion. However, because Nexplanon releases hormones into the body, the change can lead to adverse side effects for some women. Before getting an implant, it is recommended that you speak to your doctor about your health history and what form of birth control is right for you. Some pros and cons of the Nexplanon implant include:

  • Long-lasting (lasts for up to 3 years)

  • 99.9% effective at preventing pregnancy

  • Quick and relatively painless insertion (the process takes about 30 minutes)

  • Reduction or elimination of periods (1 in 3 women stop having periods at all while using Nexplanon)

  • Cost-effective (usually a one time cost paid at insertion)

  • Reversible (you can get pregnant once the implant is removed)

  • Irregular bleeding (spotting), and changes to the menstrual cycle

  • Bruising/ yellowing around the site of insertion

  • Can cause blood clots if you have risk factors such as high blood pressure or smoke

  • May have a high-cost upfront (the device can cost up to $1300)

Not sure what kind of birth control is right for you? Book an in-person or video birth control consultation to ask the questions you want and get screened for risk factors. Save up to 60% on family planning services when you book through Sesame and get the care you need at your convenience- no insurance needed.

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