Can You Get a Long-Term Supply of Birth Control Pills?

You're freaked out about contraception access. You don't want an IUD. Now what?

birth control pills

Birth control photo via

With Donald Trump’s presidency official, women nationwide are searching for contraception options that will outlast his time in office. Long-term birth control would help to safeguard women if Trump repeals the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—under which birth control is currently covered—or appoints Supreme Court justices who could overturn Roe v. Wade.

Many women are making arrangements to get intrauterine devices (IUDs), which last between three and 10 years. But IUDs aren’t for everyone—so where does that leave women who want other long-term options?

If you’d prefer to stay on the Pill, you likely won’t be able to—legitimately—stockpile enough to last a presidential term. (Even if you did, chances are good it would expire before the next election.) You may, however, be able to get a longer-lasting supply than you currently have, says Kristyn Brandi, an OB/GYN and family planning specialist at Boston Medical Center (BMC).

Some insurance providers, Brandi says, will cover patients for up to 12 months of birth control at a time, rather than one- or three-month refills. Insurance companies are not required to do so in Massachusetts, but it’s worth asking if yours does. If so, you’d be protected well into a new term, especially if you time it right.

“Perhaps you could go up to the very edge of when the ACA would, in theory, be revoked, and try to get a year’s worth then,” Brandi says, adding that taking each pack’s placebo pills will extend a prescription’s longevity as much as possible.

Brandi says she’d be comfortable prescribing patients a year’s worth of pills, provided they’d already been on the medication for a while without negative side effects. “If it’s someone who’s been using birth control pills, the patch, or NuvaRing for a long time, I’d be pretty comfortable giving them a year’s supply,” she says. “I’d be a little more concerned if someone was new to using birth control,” since each individual responds to the medication differently.

If a year’s not enough, but you still don’t want an IUD, you’re not out of luck. Brandi says the contraceptive implant—which is inserted just below the skin on the arm, and releases hormones to prevent pregnancy for up to four years—may be a good alternative.

“A lot of the concern of IUDs is the placement of them and the removal,” Brandi explains. “[The implant] is a great option because it has very similar efficacy but you don’t have to involve a pelvic exam at all.” The implant, like IUDs, can be removed at any time, and may come with side effects such as spotting.

Another option is the birth control shot, which at least buys you three months between doses.

With all of that said, however, Brandi stresses that nobody knows what Trump will do when he reaches the White House. If he does repeal the ACA, he may leave contraception access alone. Even if not, “I can’t imagine that the ACA will all of a sudden be gone,” Brandi says. “There should be some type of bridge or transition period.”

No matter what, she says, BMC and other healthcare providers will be there for patients.

“Regardless of what happens with the new administration, we’re always going to be able to take care of women, regardless of what barriers they may face,” Brandi says. “Our doors are always open, and we will always advocate for our patients’ health and safety.”