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How do I get birth control pills in Canada?

Birth control pills in Canada require a prescription from a doctor to purchase. Usually, the general steps to get birth control in Canada are to:

  1. Make a doctor’s appointment
  2. Get a prescription from your doctor
  3. Fill your prescription at a pharmacy

Yes, it is that simple. But we can guess what you’re wondering:
“What if I don’t have a family doctor?” 
“What birth control pill options are available, and which type should I go with?”

Read on to learn more!


Where do I get a prescription?

You should speak to a doctor to get a prescription for birth control. If you don’t have a family doctor; don’t sweat it. Most walk in clinics (In-person or Virtual) prescribe birth control pills. In general, your options to see a doctor includes:

  1. Your Family Doctor
  2. A Walk-In Clinic (In-person or Virtual)
  3. A Sexual Health Clinic

During your appointment with the doctor, they will help you decide if the birth control pill is right for you. The doctor may take a medical history, and may request that you do a Pap test (a screening test for cervical cancer) prior to writing a prescription for the birth control pill. 


What are birth control pills and how do they work?

Birth control pills are a small tablet that you take once a day at the same time each day to prevent pregnancy. Birth control pills are a type of hormonal birth control, and may contain a combination of estrogen and progestin, or progestin only.

If the birth control pill is taken perfectly (i.e., at the same time every single day, without missing a dose), it is 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. WIth typical use, the birth control pill is about 92% effective1. There are many different kinds of birth control available on the market, and they all have slight differences in how they work or how they should be taken. It is important to speak to your doctor or pharmacist to decide which kind of birth control pill is right for you. Note that birth control does not protect against sexually transmitted infection like chlamydia, gonorrhea, or HIV.


Who shouldn’t take birth control pills?

Like with all medications, birth control pills are not for everyone. See below for a brief list of individuals for whom the birth control pill may not be right for:

  1. You are over 35, and smoke more than 15 cigarettes per day
  2. You get migraines with aura
  3. You have, or have had, breast cancer
  4. You have a history of blood clots, or a condition that increases your risk of getting blood clots
  5. You have had a stroke

The good news is that aside from the birth control pill, there are many other options available for contraception on the market. This includes:

  • Barrier methods (condoms, diaphragms, cervical caps, the sponge)
  • Other hormonal methods (the patch, the vaginal ring, the shot, the intrauterine system (IUS))
  • Non-hormonal methods (the intrauterine device (IUD))
  • Permanent methods (female or male sterilization)
  • Other methods (the fertility awareness method, abstinence, the withdrawal method)

Not all of the above listed methods are right for everyone, and not all are as effective as the birth control pill. In all cases, you should speak with your doctor or pharmacist to decide what type of birth control is right for you.