Throughout my adult life I dreaded getting birth control.
In high school, my friends and I cut class and sat in a free clinic waiting room for hours in order to avoid the awkward conversation with our parents and paediatricians.
During my years as an investment banking analyst, when spare hours were few and far between, I made middle-of-the-night dashes to the pharmacy, only to discover that I had no more refills once I got there.
This might sound strange but in high school I even envied the girls who suffered from bad cramps or struggled with acne - because their doctors would often put them on birth control to treat those issues, allowing them to side step the mortifying ‘sexually active’ conversations.
Jumping through these hoops and many others, just to get birth control, has become so commonplace that we’ve come to blindly accept it.
But when we step back, is birth control really something to hide? Is starting birth control somehow wrong? Of course not.
The logistical struggle to access birth control and the ever-present stigma attached to it are shocking when we consider how widely used it is.
In Canada, more than 40% of sexually active women who are not trying get pregnant use birth control pills. That makes it the second most popular choice behind condoms. For many women birth control is a basic necessity.
Unlike condoms, women can’t get access to the pill over the counter. Instead they need to get a prescription from a doctor which they then have to take to a pharmacist.
This adds extra steps and complications on top of getting birth control.
Things get trickier when you consider that access to a family doctor isn’t a given for many people. One in five women between 18 and 34 in Canada do not have a regular healthcare provider, such as a family doctor.
Access is also uneven across Canada. Rural areas face particular challenges due to the concentration of doctors in urban areas. These regions account for nearly 20% of Canada’s population, they only have 8% of the doctors.
Even for those who do have a family doctor the situation isn’t always easy. One in five Canadians have to wait a week to see a family doctor.
That means across Canada women disproportionately experience long wait times to see a doctor, just to get prescribed birth control.
Whether you’re starting on birth control, or just trying to make sure you don’t run out, women should not have to wait this long for a new prescription.
And on top of all of that - yes it gets worse - young women report feeling overwhelmed by the many different options available and also feeling very uncomfortable speaking to a doctor in person about these decisions.
Felix is designed to help address all of these challenges. As co-founder and COO, I have made access to birth control for all Canadian women a core part of Felix’s mission.
We have wanted to make sure that the product was right for women and not something that men dreamed up for women—something, instead, that was grounded in the actual experiences of women.
I’m proud of the fact that by providing access to doctors online, we’ve helped thousands of Canadians get better access to birth control on their own terms.
We are breaking down barriers across the very wide spectrum of women who get birth control across the country — whether it’s the working mom with no spare time, or the first time user who feels uneasy going to their parent’s doctor.
I’ve personally read hundreds of messages from customers telling us how much the speed, convenience, discretion, and peace of mind of our service means to them.
It’s this access that Felix wants to bring to as many birth control users as possible. We want to make the old inconveniences, annoyances, and stress of getting birth control a thing of the past for everyone.
So to make it that little bit easier, we’ll be waiving our online visit fee for users seeking birth control for International Women’s Day (just use the discount code IWD2021).
If you’re a birth control user, and haven’t signed up yet, I hope this gives you the extra bit of encouragement to stop putting up with the trials and tribulations of the old way of getting birth control.
Let’s make our awkward birth control stories a thing of the past, and take charge of our health and wellbeing.
Emma Stern, Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer
The views expressed here are those of the author and, as with the rest of the content on Active Ingredients, are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider.