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Online birth control services conducting proper screening, study reveals

Online services for birth control have gained popularity over the last few years and as per a new study, women are properly screened for dangerous health conditions by these services. The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine and addressed concerns over the online sites and apps for birth control.

Tara Jain, lead author of the study said that the companies providing online services for birth control are very much safe for women. The complications occurring from hormonal birth control are not so common but are life-threatening for those women who have uncontrolled diabetes or blood pressure, blood clot history or lupus. A shopper study was secretly conducted by the researchers of University of California and Harvard to find out if women were receiving proper screening before prescribing birth control pills wherein 7 shoppers were asked to buy pills from nine various online providers during their 63 visits made virtually. Out of the seven shoppers, five of them had certain medical conditions which would have made taking of oral contraceptives dangerous.

In case of the five shoppers, out of 45 virtual visits made, three of them turned out to be risky since inappropriate prescriptions were given. It was found by the study that different approaches were taken by different companies for prescribing the pills. Jain said that in most cases, a questionnaire is filled out by the patient, after that it was reviewed by the doctor and then appropriate prescriptions are given. The providers followed the guidelines of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In one-third of their visits, patients had the chance to interact directly with the doctor through message, phone or video call. It was found that none of the providers gave importance to know about the ability of a woman in taking the pills everyday or in discussing about other long-acting options like IUD’s. The cost of the services ranged from $76 per year to $519.

The delivery of medicines also varied with companies. In case of some companies, patients were directly mailed the prescription. In certain other cases it was sent to the pharmacy. The American college of Obstetricians and Gynecologists had announced their support in providing over-the-counter services for hormonal birth-control like pills, shots, rings and patches.

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