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This question has been asked so many times in so many places that it deserves its own post. So here’s a definitive answer that I will link back to henceforth.

Important note before you proceed: I have gotten reddit feedback that this is a “horrible two-faced article,” and that it says “let’s break the rules whenever you can like our politicians,” but let me ask you this: do you think someone would get a pill without a prescription just for fun? That someone would risk physical and emotional harm just because? That they, like politicians, will somehow profit from this? No. I will tell you right now that that’s not how it works. Contraception is not a want, it is a real medical need. A woman needs the pill for one reason or another, and there are real barriers to getting a prescription. Sometimes your OB-GYNE won’t prescribe you one because they disagree with contraception. Sometimes your religious convictions, or the religious convictions of those around you, prevent you from seeking professional help. Sometimes women can’t even afford to have the consultation. That’s the reality in this country and we have to deal with it head on. My point is, it’s not my place to judge, and it isn’t your place either. People ask, I give the information. I caution as much as I can, then I leave the choice up to them. Now, on to the answer!

Yes you need a prescription to get the pills.

But you can also get one without a prescription.

Let me explain.

Technically, you need a prescription because that would be the responsible thing to do. Go to an OB-GYNE, get a check up, a pap smear maybe, a TVS, discuss your contraceptive options, then get a prescription for the type of pill that suits you best. That’s the ideal scenario. I encourage you to get a prescription. Birth control is a drug, and you need professional guidance. It’s also better to have someone to talk to about side effects if there are any. Read this post to have a better idea of what you’re getting into.

However, if for some reason you can’t go to an OB-GYNE, you can still get one. The following advice is especially intended for those who need the pills as emergency contraception (ECP), not for those who need it as regular birth control. Remember, from time of unprotected contact or failed barrier contraceptive, a woman has only 120 hours to take the ECP, with the chances of it being effective decreasing by the minute.

Walk up to the pharmacy and say you need a pack of Trust. Or Lady. Whichever. If they ask you for a prescription, say you don’t have it with you, but that you’ve been using it for years. Wear mature clothing if you look young. If you have something approximating a wedding ring, wear it. Don’t act nervous or flustered, be completely confident like you’re just buying Biogesic. If you can get your hands on an empty pill pack to use as evidence that you’ve been using it, bring it. Approach male clerks for best results — they’re less likely to ask questions. Go to Mercury Drug or Generics Pharmacy, not Watsons. Most of the time, they’ll believe you and give you the pill. I’ve only been asked to show my prescription maybe thrice since 2012. If they don’t sell it to you, move on to the next one. Repeat until you have the pills.

Again, unless there are special circumstances like the need for ECP, I encourage you to go to an OB-GYNE. If you can’t or don’t want to then I’d rather give you the information on how to get the pills than end up with an unplanned pregnancy. None of us would need to be creative like this if we had ready access to reproductive health devices and a social system that encouraged rather than shamed young people who take responsibility towards their reproductive health. I recognize that it’s not your fault this country has a stupid attitude towards reproductive health, and wish you good luck on your course of action.