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How Teens Can Get Birth Control Without Their Parents

How Teens Can Get Birth Control Without Their Parents Knowing

While it's normal for teens to have sex, not all parents are happy about it. If your parents believe you need to wait until adulthood, or if they practice a religion that condemns premarital sex, you may be understandably reluctant to ask them for advice on the subject. But the fact is, teens are going to have sex, whether their parents want them to or not — so let’s talk about how to access birth control without your parents knowing.

First, let’s talk about birth control methods you can buy without a prescription. There are no age restrictions on accessing over-the-counter birth control methods, including condoms and emergency contraception, such as Plan B. “People of any age, including teenagers, can buy condoms from a drugstore, pharmacy, grocery store, or online,” Lucinda Holt, Director of Communications for Rutgers University’s sex education resources Answer and Sex, Etc. and an expert for the YouTube sex ed series AMAZE, said.

“If anything, it’s just a question of young people feeling comfortable enough to walk into a drugstore and purchase them,” she adds. “On occasion, they may be behind a counter, which would require a young person to ask for them.” If price is a barrier, you can often get condoms for free or for reduced rates at student health clinics, LGBTQ+ centers, and Title X clinics. (Title X clinics are health clinics that receive some federal funding to provide certain family planning and sexual health services, including prescribing hormonal birth control, testing for STIs, screening for cervical cancer, and providing free or reduced cost condoms.)

If you plan on using your parents’ health insurance to get a birth control prescription, you’ll need to take a few extra steps to make sure they won’t find out. “The issue would be if the health insurance company sends an explanation of benefits after the fact, and their parents then see detailed information about their visit that might disclose what’s gone on,” Holt explains. You can call your insurance company before you make an appointment to find out what happens after a visit, because different companies have different policies.

Even if getting birth control seems like a lot of work, it’s important to do it. “You need to be able to do what you need to do to safely have sex,” Holt says. “You not only want to prevent pregnancy, you also want to reduce your risk of STIs.” Even if you have a same-sex partner or are having a kind of sex that doesn't result in pregnancy (such as oral sex, anal sex, or non-penetrative sex), you’re still going to want to use birth control to reduce the risk of STIs.

“To have sex safely requires a young person to take some initiative, but I’m really clear that young people can be mature and handle this,” Holt says. “They just need to be given the information they need.”

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