HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Women don’t have to see a doctor in person to get birth control. Technology could make those office visits obsolete. You can now get birth control through several apps.
You may have heard of drinking lemonade, but the Lemonaid app is one of many women can use to get birth control. Other birth control apps include Nurx, Virtuwell, and Maven. Women fill out a questionnaire and send a photo for verification, which a doctor reviews. Some apps allow a user to Facetime a physician.
Planned Parenthood also has an app.
“Spot On! is really designed to help people manage whatever type of birth control they’re on. If someone is on the pill, for example, they’ll get a daily text reminder at the same time to take the pill. If it’s a Depo shot, it’ll be a reminder about when it’s time to make an appointment,” said Vera Lynn DiPietro, associate director of external affairs for Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood reports their Spot On! app launched on iOS on March 29 and it has had about 90,000 downloads. That includes more than 20,000 weekly active users and almost 99,000 sessions a week. It will be available on Android phones June 28. There’s no minimum age for the app, as users can also use it to track their menstrual cycles.
“It’s important to reach people where they are,” DiPietro said. “Oftentimes people are on the go, and one thing almost everyone has with them is their cell phone.”
Doctor Deborah Herchelroath is an obstetrician and gynecologist at Woodward & Associates in Hummelstown.
“TeleMedicine is just starting to take off, and that’s a huge thing. People who are in areas where they can’t necessarily access a physician easily, they can do it through a computer,” Herchelroath said.
She believes education on birth control, especially for teenage girls, is important.
“If it’s the first time someone who’s 14 or 15 has ever been on birth control, it takes a little time to educate them, and oftentimes they need a parent or a mentor to be there to reiterate what the doctor maybe has said,” Herchelroath said.
Most apps require the user to be at least 14 years old to get birth control, and they don’t need parental permission.
Herchelroath has some concerns with birth control apps since users don’t have a face-to-face visit with a doctor.
“I do think that having a physician on standby that can explain or answer questions if anything comes up, certainly would be prudent,” Herchelroath said.
Doctors say whether it’s through an app or an in-person visit, it’s important to talk to a doctor about the risks of birth control and how to take it.