The Cheapest Ways to Get Birth Control in 2021

LAST UPDATED 12/14/2021

Need cheap birth control? Here's what to know.

  • Pharmacists may now prescribe contraceptives in 17 states.

What is Prescription Birth Control Used For? 

Contraceptives are mostly used for avoiding unintended pregnancies, but also have other benefits and uses such as regulating menstrual cycles, making periods less painful, diminishing acne, and reducing risk of ovarian cysts and uterine cancer.

There are concerns as to why a person should see a healthcare professional before starting to take a contraceptive.

While there are benefits as listed above, there are also risks associated with using contraceptives.

How Accessible Is Hormonal Birth Control?

Contraceptives like hormonal birth control typically have a low cost ($0-$50 per pack).

However, most contraceptives are completely free when covered by most health insurance plans or if someone qualifies for a government program.

The main hurdle with access to contraceptives is that at a federal level, they are currently only available with a prescription from a provider.

However, contraception may soon be available over the counter as a bill was introduced to congress in 2019 to increase access to safe and effective contraception.

What Are Different Types of Prescription Birth Control?

hormonal birth control patch

There are a variety of birth control methods, including hormonal and non-hormonal.

Different contraceptives include:

  • birth control pills
  • shots
  • patches
  • rings
  • IUDs (intrauterine devices), and
  • implants.


There is no one size fits all medication for all patients. Each have their own unique benefits and side effects.

How do you know which option is right for you? Having a health care provider assess and discuss options with a patient may help minimize side effects.

What Are The Most Common Side Effects of Birth Control?

Side effects associated with birth control include weight gain, acne, headaches, nausea, bloating, and even depression.

Another significant concern about making hormonal contraceptives OTC is the fact that they increase a patient’s risk of developing blood clots.

Seeing a healthcare provider can help determine patients who are not good candidates for birth control.

patient picking up prescription from a pharmacy

Can Pharmacists Prescribe Birth Control In My State?

Pharmacists can prescribe birth control directly to patients in 17 states.

This is a great option to receive care because it can save patients time and money on doctors’ appointments. 

These states allow pharmacists to prescribe hormonal birth control:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • District of Columbia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • Oregon
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia


Use this tool to find a pharmacy near you that offers prescription services.

What is the Pharmacist's Role in Obtaining Contraception?

Certain states already allow for pharmacists to prescribe birth control to their patients directly.

This alternative increases access to contraception while still allowing patients to be screened by a healthcare professional to determine what birth control is appropriate.

There are currently 17 states that allow pharmacists to order birth control. The first state to allow pharmacists to prescribe contraceptives was Oregon and they have since collected some interesting data.

Since pharmacists have been allowed to prescribe birth control in 2016, one Medicaid study showed more than 10% of all birth control prescriptions were ordered by a pharmacist. Of the prescriptions ordered by pharmacists, 74% of patients had not used birth control in the past 6 months. 

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