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KWWL Special Report: Birth control delivery phone app launches in Iowa

DUBUQUE, Iowa (KWWL) — A California-based company expanded their services to reach women in Iowa.

Gynecologists are key to any woman’s health care regimen with part of that including birth control prescription, but what if the only OB-GYN available to you is hundreds of miles away? A phone app called Nurx is working to address this issue.

Eliminating “contraceptive deserts” in Iowa

The app recently launched in Iowa to give women easier access to information and options when it comes to

family planning by offering them birth control at their doorstep. Many rural states, such as Iowa, are considered “contraceptive deserts” which means access to birth control is limited or even non-existent in some areas of the state.

Nurx’s Vice President of Clinical Services, Jessica Horwitz says their service is working to eliminate these “contraceptive deserts”.

“We know for lots and lots of people in Iowa the closest OB-GYN or planned parenthood or just like general health practitioner where you can go in and get care might be many many many miles away.”

User friendly for everyone

The app is easy to navigate. You download it onto your smart phone, open the app and click on the option to pick a birth control brand on your own or have one of Nurx’s virtual physicians help you choose, answer a series of health questions, order your prescription, and Nurx will ship it right to your mailbox.

Horwitz says Nurx has a number of options for women without insurance to still be able to utilize the service.

“This is not an app and a technology and an access point only for people who have insurance or only for people who have a lot of disposable income so we are incredibly committed to making sure that we always have affordable cash options for people.”

Not just for contraceptives

The app also includes emergency contraception, HIV and STI test kit delivery. However, even though the app offers at-home screenings, some doctors are still hesitant about the online service.

Tara Holste, an OB-GYN in Dubuque says she worries women may decide not to follow-up with their doctors on a yearly basis. Dr. Holste says her patients’ yearly visits are not only to renew their birth control prescription.

“These birth control follow up visits we do on yearly time frames also is our opportunity to screen for STDs, talk about other concerning things that may be going on in the GYN realm of things.”

Warning to new birth control users

Dr. Holste also worries for women who are new to birth control. Even though the app has virtual physicians to help users choose which form of birth control is right for them, proper use of the medication may be misunderstood if not done under a doctor’s care.

“I fortunately, unfortunately have had three patients in the last year conceive a child in the last year who believed they were taking birth control effectively”.

Despite her concerns, Dr. Holste thinks the new birth control delivery service will benefit a lot of women in Iowa when it comes to getting convenient reproductive care.

The app does specify that is does not replace regular health visits by your doctor. Nurx’s physicians encourage users to still see their OB-GYN on a yearly basis. You must be at least 13 years old to qualify for the app’s services.

The app is free to download on the Apple app store of Google Play.

Cori Hanna

Today in Iowa reporter

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