How to get birth control for my girlfriend?
July 4, 2006 1:45 AM   Subscribe

Is there any way for me to get birth control pills for my girlfriend? I am 20, she is 17.

We live in Texas. Her parents are opposed to her getting birth control, for religious reasons, and so she does not want to go through her family doctor. Is there any affordable, private, and preferably legal way for me to purchase birth control pills for her? We would prefer, if possible, to avoid lengthy doctor's appointments or clinic visits. I have heard we could go to a planned parenthood center but I don't know if her age, or her wish to not involve her parents, would be an issue.

(I realize there have been numerous birth control related questions asked in the past, but none seemed to address my issues. Apologies if this repeats a previous question.)
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (34 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Q If I'm under 18 and want to obtain contraception, do I need my parents' permission and if not, will they find out that I'm using birth control?

A Currently, there are no laws in any state, including New York State, that require parental consent or notification if someone under the age of 18 wants to get birth control.

We would prefer, if possible, to avoid lengthy doctor's appointments or clinic visits.

Birth control is a serious medication, involving large doses of hormones to interfere with the body's natural cycles. I think planned parenthood is a good idea, but they are going to want you to come in and talk to someone before they prescribe anything for you.

Why don't you take a loot at the Planned Parenthood Website and give them a call (1-800-230-PLAN). It also looks like many of the Planned Parenthood offices in Texas have their own webpages.
posted by sophist at 2:06 AM on July 4, 2006

posted by matteo at 2:09 AM on July 4, 2006

From the Texas Planned Parenthood of the Texas Capital Region Web site FAQ:
"Currently a minor can receive contraceptive information and services without parental permission."
So, yeah, make an appointment for her, and take her. Because contraception is a serious medical issue for young women, and because, as a guy, you'd hate to get the pelvic exam, instead of her...
posted by paulsc at 2:48 AM on July 4, 2006

Paulsc, pelvic exams are not required for hormonal contraception, although many doctors still do them as a matter of course.

But yes, go to Planned Parenthood. This is their specialty.

I know others are going to disagree with me, but I say that if you have to, you could also buy the pill on the internet for her from a site such as This is legal: a doctor takes her health history and gives her a real prescription. However, it's much more expensive than going to Planned Parenthood, and you want to be sure she understands how to take the pill correctly. (Planned Parenthood currently offers presciptions for the pill over the internet in Washington State, but you have to be a resident there to use the service.)

Birth control pills do not "involve large doses of hormones" anymore. They are very safe, especially for a healthy 17 year old. Certainly safer than pregnancy.
posted by Violet Hour at 3:27 AM on July 4, 2006

Although the hormone level is much lower than in the past, the Pill is still a medication that shouldn't be taken without some kind of medical advice and subsequent monitoring.

The Pill can cause or exacerbate conditions including (but not limited to :

pulmonary embolism
mesenteric thrombosis
cerebral hemorrhage
gall bladder disease

It also shouldn't be taken be smokers (due to the increased risk for blood clots) or by persons with certain medical conditions.

And to respond to Violet Hour's comment above, although I can't speak to the legitimacy of that particular site, there are widespread problems related to the use of Internet pharmacies -- particularly those with "doctors" who take your medical history and issue prescriptions. They are often fraudulent, and unless certified by legitimate associations (such as your state/national pharmacist's association), should be avoided.
posted by melimelo at 5:39 AM on July 4, 2006

Melimelo, those conditions are very real threats, but they would be highly unusual in such a young woman except for perhaps hypertension, and it's not all that hard to check blood pressure.

It's unfortunate, but I doubt a physician would be able to predict the other complications from a standard examination.

Smoking is bad for you, but smoking while on the pill is only absolutely prohibited if you are over 35, and the OP's girlfriend is 17.

My point is that the health risks associated with the pill are lower than those associated with pregnancy. For example, you are more likely to get a blood clot from pregnancy than the pill, and in fact pulmonary embolism is the most frequent cause of death associated with childbirth.
posted by Violet Hour at 6:17 AM on July 4, 2006

Planned Parenthood is the way to go. She will need to have an exam (which is a good thing since she is having sex) and they will help her decide which type of birth control to use. There are other options besides the pill. (shot, patch, ring are not as easy to forget). She may consider joining something like a livejournal community that is about the type of contraception she is will be on. Her body may go through changes (mood swings, weight gain, etc) that she will want to discuss with someone.
She is a prime candidate for the HPV vaccine and should talk with her doctor about it.
posted by nimsey lou at 6:30 AM on July 4, 2006

In most people, the dangerous-sounding symptoms listed above are pretty damn rare. However, it's not uncommon for women to need to try several different formulations of the Pill to find one that doesn't cause more minor side effects [weight issues, mood changes, and an altered libido seem to be most common.] Additionally, if your girlfriend is going to be sexually active, she should be getting yearlly gynecological exams anyway. I know that you want to avoid lengthy visits with the doctor [due to the logistics of hiding it from her family?], but it's her health, and it's certainly in your interest as well as hers that she be able to find a birth control method that works for her. So yeah, a visit to Planned Parenthood is probably your best bet.
posted by ubersturm at 6:44 AM on July 4, 2006

Since you are 20 and she is 17, I would be careful crossing her parents. They could slap a statutory rape charge on you, couldn't they?
posted by mathowie at 6:48 AM on July 4, 2006

the Pill caused major depression in me - I wouldn't have wanted to be without a doctor's help during that time. I'd recommend you go somewhere where she can get help if things aren't going right - she may need to try more than one brand of pill, for example - many women do.
posted by altolinguistic at 6:53 AM on July 4, 2006

Since you are 20 and she is 17, I would be careful crossing her parents. They could slap a statutory rape charge on you, couldn't they?

Apparently, the age of consent in Texas is 17.
posted by Violet Hour at 6:56 AM on July 4, 2006

I had the same thought about the statutory rape. I would not risk sex at all, condom, pills, or otherwise, unless you want to someday show up on a site like this. I think it's very likely her parents will find out. And if some 20 year old was banging my 17 year old daughter, I would at least be tempted to report it. . . That seems like a pretty big age difference to me.

And it's also likely the 17 year old has some guilt about it (since you're the one pushing for the pills).

Also, for my wife at least, the pill caused her to gain some weight and feel depressed. So this is definitely something she should sit down with a physician about.

But to answer the question, Planned Parenthood. Don't go with her, she needs privacy in this decision and consultation.
posted by visual mechanic at 7:01 AM on July 4, 2006

Age of consent in most states is at least 17.

Poster: I assume you feel for this girl with more than your pecker, and so you want to do the right thing. Make the appointment WITH her (help her do it, whatever, don't just spring it on her is all I'm sayin'), and go with her to the appointment. You'll have to leave the room (or at least get at the head of the bed) during her pelvic exam, but they will likely allow you to stay with her otherwise.

It's a responsible thing for you and her to be thinking of ensuring that she doesn't get pregnant. I really do applaud that. But, something to consider: If your relationship with her parents isn't strong enough to survive them finding out that you're nailing their daughter, you should probably work on that relationship with her parents, don't you think? Otherwise, you're the "grown man" who's screwing around with their "teenage daughter". Something to consider.
posted by Merdryn at 7:18 AM on July 4, 2006

Of course, if she doesn't want you with her, don't go into the exam room with her. But let her make that decision.
posted by Merdryn at 7:19 AM on July 4, 2006

I disagree with visual mechanic about you not going with her. Both of you are involved in the act, and both of you need to become educated and feel responsible for your own and your partner's sexual health. Planned Parenthood has a lot of important information that boyfriends/husbands should be aware of; such as, birth control options, the side effects of hormonal birth control, what actions to take if a pregnancy does occur, etc. Also, she should feel supported and less ill at ease when she visits the gynocologist for the first time. It can be pretty daunting; when I was 17 and needed to go to Planned Parenthood, my older exboyfriend was "too busy" to take me and I ended up relying on a close male friend of mine. He did, however, learn a lot about his sexual health.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 7:25 AM on July 4, 2006

On preview: what Merdryn said.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 7:26 AM on July 4, 2006

I absolutely endorse Planned Parenthood. My son's fiancee worked there as a sort of support, quasi-ombudsman, support group leader for girls that came in for birth control. They will do much more for both of you than just prescribing the pill, they may ultimately figure out that another form of birth control is better for her, they will offer unqualified support and answer any and all questions she has and it will all be completely confidential. They are also much more likely to offer the HPV vaccine than a family dr. Not to mention it will probably be the least expensive option available to you both.
posted by hollygoheavy at 8:11 AM on July 4, 2006

I went to Planned Parenthood when I was a teenager. They will absolutely respect her privacy, and she will get good medical care.
posted by theora55 at 8:26 AM on July 4, 2006

Hopping on the PP bandwagon. Health risks aside, most women have to experiment a bit to figure out which formulation works best for them. She needs to be able to talk to a doctor. She needs to know how to take the pill, how long it takes to become effective, what side effects to be concerned about and which she can safely ignore, and so on.

Even if the pelvic exam is not required, she should get one annually. She should also be doing monthly breast self-examinations.

Re whether or not to go with her, I think you should ask her what she prefers. Hold her hand as much as she needs, but be sure that this is her decision too.
posted by joannemerriam at 8:31 AM on July 4, 2006

Dear anon --

Planned Parenthood is the way to go, and please ignore all the weird discussion about side effects of the pill that have come up in answers here. Bottom line is: the pill is a medication and needs to be prescribed by a doctor, which means that they'll need a medical history and an exam. I wouldn't classify this as a "lengthy clinic visit" -- you should be there about an hour.

Do go with her to the appointment, and they may want to talk to you both together for a while, but let her have her privacy while they do the actual internal exam (especially if she's never had one before).

Planned Parenthood does offer medical services for both men and women, so if you haven't had a doctors visit in a while, this might be a good chance for you to get all checked out yourself.

Good for you, and good luck.
posted by anastasiav at 8:50 AM on July 4, 2006

Adding to the chorus -

This is exactly the kindof thing Planned Parenthood is for. They will keep it private, and they have lots of info about different birth control methods, STD testing and related things. It is both her & your responsiblity to take change of birth control and STD prevention, so I would advise going to the clinic with her. You can let her choose whether you go in with her to see the actual doctor, but at least take her to the appointment and sit in the waiting room. There will be lots of educational stuff for you to read there.
posted by raedyn at 9:25 AM on July 4, 2006

She is a prime candidate for the HPV vaccine and should talk with her doctor about it.

I can't tell from the post, but if the girlfriend has already had sex, then no, she's not a candidate. The vaccine has to be administered before sexual debut (which is why it's going to be recommended for girls before they're 12).
posted by tristeza at 9:50 AM on July 4, 2006

Concur with the PP approach. That being said...

Ever heard of condoms?? Her parents TOTALLY don't have to know if you decide to use them.
posted by matty at 9:58 AM on July 4, 2006

Virginity means nothing re the HPV vaccines, but I don't know how available they're going to be yet, both physically and available as in 'providers comfortable to be giving them out.'

"GARDASIL works best when given before you or your child has any contact with certain types of
HPV (i.e., HPV types 6, 11, 16, and 18).
Who can receive GARDASIL?
GARDASIL is for girls and women 9 through 26 years of age.
See “Who should not receive GARDASIL?” below.
Who should not receive GARDASIL?
Anyone who:
• is allergic to any of the ingredients in the vaccine. A list of ingredients can be found at the end of
this leaflet.
• has an allergic reaction after getting a dose of the vaccine."

(They also were given in clinical trials to people who already had one of the strains being guarded against and saw, if my reading is correct, no downside and mild improvement in symptoms anyway.)

I also nth PP, on-topic, or you might have access to other clinics like PP, such as sliding-scale women's clinics at your local non-Catholic research hospital. But without knowing your area, PP is your best bet.
posted by cobaltnine at 10:07 AM on July 4, 2006

cobaltnine, I actually meant to type "not a PRIME candidate" to echo nimsey lou's comment, I didn't mean not a candidate at all. My bad. (Still, no vaccine treats existing HPV or HPV symptoms, see the CDC fact sheet on the vaccine)

posted by tristeza at 10:58 AM on July 4, 2006

If your GF lives with her parents it might be a bit tricky hiding the daily pill taking, you might want to consider on of the other options like Depo or the Ring.
posted by Mitheral at 11:48 AM on July 4, 2006

There is absolutely no way that you can get birth control (prescription for an oral contraceptive) for your law, a prescription is written for a specific patient. Ain't no way an MD is going to write an oral contraceptive for a man.

Sorry, if she can't be adult about it (because she technically isn't one) maybe you shouldn't be sleeping with her.

Of course, there's all the other methods of contraception, too.
posted by Pocahontas at 12:35 PM on July 4, 2006

though the risk of medical complications can be small, it is still a risk, and you have to consider that if they do arise (say, if she ends up dead or in hospital)--or even if they do not and, say, the parents find the pills--the parents are more likely to push to have you prosecuted to the fullest extent possible...religious parents have good little girls who do not think about sex until tempted by dirty older boys, and they will be vengeful...
posted by troybob at 12:55 PM on July 4, 2006

My suggestion: Pill AND condoms. Condoms alone have an 80% chance of preventing pregnancy and they also help prevent any STDs and HIV; the Pill is 99% but NO protection against STDs or HIV.

The Pill MUST be taken every day, at the same time every day. Can she remember to take it daily? Sounds like a lame question, but when I was on the Pill, I'd occasionally forget.

Planned Parenthood is the way to go. Do not go the internet route. How do you know the pills you get off the 'net are the real thing? Seriously... there's been busts where internet 'pharmacies' got busted for selling either bogus meds or meds that were almost ineffective. You can't take that risk.

Depending on the prescription you get (there's over 30 types of birth control pills on the market) it will cost you about $30 a month, although Planned Parenthood may be different about this.

I'd suggest you go with her, but leave it up to her if she wants you with her during the pelvic exam (which is very quick and nothing to freak out about)... I wouldn't have wanted my boyfriend around while my gyno was poking around in there, nope. :)
posted by miltoncat at 2:03 PM on July 4, 2006

I don't think anyone's really mentioned the patch yet; I'm on it and it's worked really well. Defintely another option for her to consider, especially if taking the pill at the same time every day seems a little difficult.
posted by MadamM at 3:33 PM on July 4, 2006

No offense, but why is it for her? You are 20, you can get condoms anywhere. You want a quick solution, no lengthy doctor's visits, no clinic questions? Well, how about YOU being responsible for birth control? Don't like the "sensation"? Then you'll have to put up with lengthy doctors visits and clinic questions, and clinic visits twice a year.
posted by annieb at 4:25 PM on July 4, 2006

We would prefer, if possible, to avoid lengthy doctor's appointments or clinic visits.

I realize that this is a bit of a derail (sorry), but even if you are able to get birth control without an exam, she should still have regular pelvic exams/pap smears--babies aren't the only risk involved in sex. The visits/exams don't necessarily have to take a long time, but they're a good idea. It's also good because then she'll establish a relationship with a doctor/healthcare facility and will have a place to go if she has some sort of reproductive-health-related problem at a later point.
posted by needs more cowbell at 4:49 PM on July 4, 2006

First off, I'm jumping in also to advocate for Planned Parenthood if she's too young for or not in a situation to use a college health center. Second of all, it might be worth considering the Ring as an alternative to the pill for a number of reasons, the most significant one being fewer chances for failure since you only change it once a month. Also, if she takes any medications, she's less likely to have drug interactions.

Please use condoms as a backup with the pill or Ring. The pill is likely to fail if she misses one or is on antibiotics and sometimes it just plain fails. Trust me, neither of you wants to pick up the pieces if that happens. It's so much easier just to use a condom.

Additionally, the pill won't protect either of you against diseases. And, while I'm sure you're both very devoted to each other, the reality is that you're 17 and 20.

Added bonus of condoms: less post-coital mess!
posted by wildeepdotorg at 8:00 PM on July 4, 2006

If your girlfriend is like me has no medical problems, Planned Parenthood can be a good, confidential option. If she's like 99% of girls today and being treated for a dozen different medical conditions, her family doctor probably should know if she goes on birth control.
posted by dagnyscott at 9:07 PM on July 4, 2006

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