Doctors scare me. Meds scare me. I have to set an alarm to take my bc everyday or I'll forget. Make it go away!
August 1, 2011 1:02 PM   Subscribe

Birth control - how do the monthly prescriptions work?

So I have never been on birth control until last month. At my first visit to the OBGYN she prescribed bc for me and gave me a month's worth and a prescription for the following month. I filled the prescription and here I am like a dummy (I was scared!) I forgot to ask what I am supposed to do when I run out. Am I supposed to call her office and get a new prescription? Or am I supposed to schedule monthly visits (!?!?!). I guess I'm just really confused... please help?

And I guess this is a good chance for anyone to give me advice on bc? Taking the pill freaks me out. It take it every day at noon .. Can you stock up on bc? Can you? Any tips/strategies.. greatly appreciate it.

I hope I'm doing this right. Sorry if this is a silly question.
posted by xicana63 to Health & Fitness (23 answers total)
Call the pharmacy where you filled the prescription - your doctor almost certainly wrote it with enough refills for an entire year.

I don't know what you mean by "stock up", but I can tell you that my insurance won't pay for birth control if I try to get more than one month at a time.
posted by something something at 1:04 PM on August 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

Call the office and ask the nurse.

They might want to check in with you after a month to see how you felt on it before giving you a refill.
posted by k8t at 1:04 PM on August 1, 2011 [3 favorites]

Your birth control prescription is most likely available to be refilled. That means before your next period ends, you should go pick up a new prescription. Also, feel free to call your doctor and/or pharmacist and ask these questions. No reason to fill silly.
posted by quodlibet at 1:05 PM on August 1, 2011

Although you should probably call your doctor and double-check, mine will typically give me 12 refills which I then have the pharmacy auto-fill for me.

Your doctor may have given you fewer under the assumption that you're just starting it out, and that you might want to switch to another pill; definitely give her a call -- you'll probably have to leave a message with the office staff -- to clarify.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 1:06 PM on August 1, 2011

Usually you get a prescription that has a certain number of refills on it. So for me I'd get a year's prescription which meant that I could call in every month to the pharmacy and they'd refill it. You can call the pharmacy and ask how many refills are left on your prescription though it may also be on the label of your package. There may be rules at your pharmacy about how many times you can refill it in a short amount of time. When I moved out of the country I spoke to my doctor special and was allowed to pick up nine months' worth but usually you can't stock up.

You should take it at the same time every day but it doesn't have to be to the minute. You can take it right when you wake up or before you go to bed or whatever. Check the instructions for what you should do if you miss a pill. Sometime missing one pill is not a big deal and you can just take it when you remember and then take the other one at a normal time. However read the packaging and it will tell you.
posted by jessamyn at 1:06 PM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have to set an alarm or I forget my pill, too! Obviously the closer to on-time you can take your pill, the better, but please don't stress about a couple minutes one way or the other (or even about missing one pill - read the instructions that came with your prescription for what to do if that happens).

A week or so before the end of your last pack, call your dr's office and ask for more refills. You will be transferred to a prescribing nurse who will be happy to do it for you, or you will be asked to come in.
posted by muddgirl at 1:09 PM on August 1, 2011

I use CVS as my pharmacy and they auto-fill, and I get an automated reminder phone call a couple of days before I need to pick it up.

My insurance lets me get three months' worth of pills at one time. YMMV; get your prescription in the system at your pharmacy of preference and ask the pharmacist to check what your insurance allows.
posted by olinerd at 1:09 PM on August 1, 2011

Recommendation, if you are covered by insurance, call your prescription plan and see if you can enroll in mailed refills. They will mail you the med either monthly or every 3 months and you will always have it on time when you need it, preventing the last minute "ack! I forgot about my prescription and the pharmacy's closed!" moments.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 1:10 PM on August 1, 2011

p.s. consider birth control you don't have to worry about every day. There are so many other options that are less stress.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 1:11 PM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Since you are a first-time user, your doctor likely wants to see you after 2 months to make sure you're handling it well, don't have questions or side effects you want to talk about, or any other issues. After that you'll be expected to go back in yearly to get a pap test and a new round of prescriptions.

My first time, the doctor had me come in after 6 months. He brought up that I had gained 50 pounds, but I insisted it couldn't possibly be the pill. Please, do go back and ask questions and change prescriptions if you're not really pleased with the one you're on.

Alarms are actually a great way to make sure you take your pill every day so you don't have to be anxious about it. It's okay to do it that way.

Please talk to your doctor about being scared. You don't have to go into a long explaination - "By the way, I have pretty intense white coat phobia, so go easy on me and help me make sure I get all my instructions in writing, okay?" (You can even do that on the phone beforehand, usually they'll make a note. You may have to bring it up again in person, though.)
posted by Lyn Never at 1:14 PM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Wow thanks everyone! I guess because I'm nervous about the whole thing I wasn't even thinking clearly! As soon as I get home I'll check the label, call the pharmacy and sign-up mailed refills (or even the phone call to pick up the prescription!) and call the doctor to see when my next appt is.

You guys are amazing! Thanks again!
posted by xicana63 at 1:15 PM on August 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Definitely second the "get refills mailed if possible" suggestion. And you definitely do NOT need to see your doctor every single month in order to keep getting a maintenance birth control RX refilled.

As for taking it every day / on time, maybe I am not the best person to answer this but for me that's easy because, well, I REALLY don't want to be pregnant. Noon seems like kind of a tricky time to take the pill, though, given that you're apt to be doing other things (thus, an alarm/watch might be missed or ignored). I take mine first thing in the morning upon getting out of bed and it's just become part of the routine. (And if you want to shift the time you take the pill, you can certainly do so...just wait until the beginning of your next pack and take the first pill following the placebo/inactive week at the time you want to switch to).
posted by aecorwin at 1:19 PM on August 1, 2011

Do be sure to check with your insurance company. My company requires using the mail order pharmacy for medications I take regularly, and sets a huge financial penalty if I don't use it.
posted by BlahLaLa at 1:19 PM on August 1, 2011

The pharmacy on my insurance sends me 3 packs at a time on autofill. Usually, I also go to Planned Parenthood and buy three packs of pills, so I have a buffer. I go before my annual exam and tell them that my insurance won't refill until my next annual exam, which is scheduled for [date] but that I don't have enough pills to cover the gap. Sometimes I call my doctor's office and ask for a scrip for three months and have it filled at the pharmacy without invoking my insurance.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:23 PM on August 1, 2011

Personally I always had to call in the refill (though I didn't mind) because of my pharmacy and plan ... but now my pharmacy has an app that I can scan a barcode on the prescription bottle/container and it automatically sends the refill info the the pharmacy and e-mails me when it's ready. That's super-convenient, if something like that is available to you.

Anyway, if you do have to call in, set yourself an e-mailed or calendared reminder of some sort, that will alert you a few days in advance of running out so that you don't.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:34 PM on August 1, 2011

Nthing the alarm. When I first went on the Pill, I bought a watch with an alarm and set it to go off every day at the same time. It really helped, especially on weekends.
posted by luckynerd at 1:34 PM on August 1, 2011

Just so you are aware, the worst pill to miss is the one after a break (if your pill is to be taken 3 weeks on with one week's break). If you realise you've missed this one and plan to have sex, use a condom or take the morning after pill if necessary. If you are on a pill that contains a week's worth of placebos this isn't such a proble,. Antibiotics can also make the pill less effective, so use condoms if you have to take a course of them.

I used to have real trouble remembering to take my pill, I found the best time to take it was first thing in the morning, you can leave it near your toothpaste or your make up or whatever else is part of every morning's routine. It's always good to carry a spare few/pack in case you decide to stay at a friend's.

Also, never feel stupid asking your doctor or pharmacist (or ask mefi!) these questions, better to look like you're not the expert on something than end up with an unwanted pregnancy!
posted by ellieBOA at 2:05 PM on August 1, 2011

If you're nervous about remembering to take the dose, you can ask about the NuvaRing. It's a medication-releasing ring that goes in the vagina and gets changed once a month. If your insurance covers it (or if you have Planned Parenthood in your area, they offer a sliding scale), it's a really great BC method, and I only went back to pills because my ins. stopped covering it. Would switch back to it in a second, if I could!
posted by wowbobwow at 2:07 PM on August 1, 2011

If you find that taking a pill every day is non-tenable for you, there are other hormonal b.c. options. Patch (sorry don't know any names), ring (often Nuvaring) , shot (Depo-Provera). These will have slightly different side effects from pills, and recall that pills often have different side effects from each other (there are manymanymany different kinds of b.c. pills).

Not being able to remember to take a pill every day is a perfectly valid reason for trying one of the other b.c. options available. Of course if the pill you're on is still working well for you in a few months, then why mess with a good thing.
posted by nat at 2:09 PM on August 1, 2011

Depending on your pharmacy (most) will do the refill requests for you and will almost always ask for refills.

Look to see if your pharmacy has a online option where you can place refills and will have refill reminders sent via text, email or phone call.

Depending on your insurance you can have your pharmacy request a "vacation overide" or a "lost, stolen or spilled override" to obtain an early fill. If you use mail order (3 months at a time) you may be able to obtain a "mail order override". Only your insurance member services would be able to advise on your specific coverage. That is what they are there for. Don't be shy.

also check to see if you can do up to 90days of medication at retail.

I can't stress enough about a pharmacy's online feature; without it I would forget to refill

As for daily reminders: if you have a smart phone set up a reminder or an email reminder. Trust me, you'll get the hang of it!

I hope your bc works for you!
posted by Bun Surnt at 4:26 PM on August 1, 2011

Seconding Nuvaring if you're really that stressed about having to take it at the same time every day - I was awful about taking the pill every day, let alone at the same time every day, and this has solved all of my problems. I set a calendar alert to remind me when to take it out and put a new one in. Super easy.
posted by echo0720 at 4:47 PM on August 1, 2011

I have a Mirena IUD and I looooooooove it. No side effect, insertion totally easy with the aid of 800 mg of ibuprofen, set it and forget it for five years. It's amazing. And my periods are much lighter now as an added bonus.
posted by woodvine at 6:10 PM on August 1, 2011

I don't just have one alarm. I have at least 3 that I can think of offhand. I am unable to use Nuvaring now because it interacts badly with another medication I'm on, but I was on it for 6 years and it was so nice. If you can get it and afford it, GO FOR IT. You'll love the convenience. I hear IUDs are even nicer, but I put off getting one and now I find I don't think it's the right time in my life for it.

You'll find that, especially if you have to refill every month, you will fall into kind of a rhythm. My pharmacy is a few blocks from my house and every 4th Saturday I stroll on over there. They know me, they say hello, sometimes my husband comes too and we bring the dogs with us - it's not at all unpleasant. Every 3 months makes it harder to establish a routine, I'd say :)
posted by troublesome at 9:50 PM on August 1, 2011

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