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You can now get your birth control pills from a smartphone app, but is that safe?

Nurx is making it easier to get birth control pills sent directly to your house.
Nurx Birth Control App
Photo: Getty Images

Birth control pills are still one of the most popular ways to protect against unwanted pregnancies — and for good reason because they’re typically between 91 and 99 percent effective.

The most annoying aspect of taking birth control pills isn’t remembering to take them, but to get them in the first place: You have to make an appointment with your doctor, actually go to the office and then to the pharmacy to get your supply. Then repeat the process year after year.

One new app is trying to change that by offering birth control delivery services sans the doctor. With Nurx, you pick out the birth control, answer a survey and then add your insurance information. A team of doctors affiliated with the app review your request and then ship out the medication. They also offer the morning-after pill Plan B and PrEP, a medicine that can protect against HIV.

Sounds like a dream come true, but there’s a reason why you just can’t pick them up over-the-counter now: There are side effects associated with birth control pills, like blood clots. Women with the genetic mutation Factor V Leiden are 35 times more likely to get deadly blood clots while taking birth control pills and few women know they have the mutation when they start taking birth control. The service says it uses a panel of doctors to review, but it’s not the same as a one-on-one visit with a doctor.

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“Birth control is not without risks and possible side effects,” Jennifer Wider, M.D., told Women’s Health. “The worry is that this online interaction may not be complete enough to get the proper information on the patient and follow up later.”

Birth control is safe for the vast majority of women, but is convenience worth the risk? Probably not quite yet, but there has to be a middle ground of both convenience and safety — and hopefully we’ll get there soon, for the sake of all women.

 
 
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