Australian Women Can Now Get The Contraceptive Pill Sent Straight To Their Door
In a landmark move for women's health, Aussies can now skip the constant doctors visits and have their contraceptive pill delivered to their homes.
As it stands in Australia, those who are prescribed 'the pill' are required to visit their doctor every time they need a new script.
1.6 million Australian women are prescribed to the contraceptive pill, and for many this means unnecessary appointments every three to four months.
Its a burdensome process that's been called 'contraception admin'. But thankfully, it could be coming to an end.
Today, the team at online healthcare platform Kin Fertility are digitalising contraception access by launching a subscription service for the pill.
It's an Australian first, and has the power to revolutionise women's health.
How does it work?
In order to access the service, users are required to fill out a comprehensive online questionnaire in order to provide Kin Fertility's doctors with an overview of their health.
From here, the team of doctors review the patient's information, and then initiate a text-based consult to address any specific questions or concerns.
If the patient is deemed suitable, they then go on to select their contraceptive pill and have it delivered to their door regularly when they require a new script.
According to Kin Fertility founder Nicole Liu, the on-boarding process is completed in a matter of days, if not hours.
"The consult itself is asynchronous, meaning that the doctors can answer whenever they’re ready within 24 hours, and then the patient can answer whenever they have time," Liu told 10 daily.
How much does it cost?
In addition to standard cost of the pill withdrawn every time it ships, those subscribed to Kin Fertility pay a $55 annual membership fee.
"That $55 membership fee includes multiple doctor consults every year," said Liu. "So every time you have a side effect and you might want to talk to a doctor about it, that's all covered under the membership fee."
Better yet, you'll likely be able to continue your current prescription.
"At the moment we offer 35 brands on Kin of the contraceptive pill, and they’re the normal brands you’ll find in your pharmacy."
Who's tried it?
10 daily reached out to a number of women trialing the subscription service prior to its launch.
As a lawyer, 24-year-old Sara Liu was frustrated by the expectation that managing your own health means countless doctors appointments.
"The idea of having to find a 'convenient' time to go and see the doctor (factoring in the time it'll take to actually travel to the doctors office and wait in their waiting room), only to spend three minutes flat speaking to the doctor to get a pill prescription refilled is quite inefficient," she told 10 daily.
"I wanted to try Kin Fertility primarily to cut out the real-life interface with doctors as I feel I truly don't need it to refill my prescription. I also enjoy the fact that the pill can be delivered straight to my door, so I don't have to find time out of my schedule to visit the pharmacy and wait in lines to purchase the pill."
For 27-year-old Tahlija Turnball, contraceptive admin was such an unnecessary burden, she went off the pill altogether.
I'd gone off the pill and found making the time to see a doctor challenging with my schedule. This was the perfect solution. As someone who is time poor, Kin has fit perfectly into my schedule.
"What's been particularly helpful is the clear communication throughout the process as this was my first time filling any type of prescription or interacting with a medical service online," Turball continued.
"The email reminders have been a life saver as I often need prompting to remember to complete a step and the fact that this is all automated has been fantastic."
Similarly, Samantha Colledge was driven away from the pill, finding the current process "a waste of time."
"Contraception admin can definitely become burdensome. I went off the pill when I moved to Sydney for that exact reason," she told 10 daily.
I decided it was easier to grab condoms from the supermarket instead.
After experiencing "debilitating period pain" and drawn to the convenience of the subscription service, Colledge found the on-boarding process "really streamlined and professional."
"I really liked how every time I had a question pop up in my head there was a FAQs section with nearly the exact question and an answer. Within an hour of signing up I had a doctor and a prescription. I had been on the pill for years and know my body quite well so it felt like a service that understood that."
As noted by the personal experiences of those who trialed the subscription service, many women find doctors visits so burdensome that they abandon the pill altogether.
2018 research published in the Medical Journal of Australia found that more than a quarter (26 percent) of women who were pregnant in the last 10 years called their pregnancies unintended.
Heading overseas, 2019 research out of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine investigated the benefits of a year-long supply of the contraceptive pill and found it could reduce unintended pregnancies.
Analysing data from 24,309 women enrolled in the Veterans Affairs health system who were taking oral contraceptive pills, they found that 12 month-long scripts could have prevented an estimated 583 unintended pregnancies.
Research published last year in the journal PharmacoEconomics also found that making the pill available over the counter at pharmacies could also save Australia's healthcare system $96 million every year.
By inconveniencing access to the contraceptive pill, it means that it's not uncommon a woman will miss a pill or abandon the contraceptive method altogether.
Minimising this inconvenience factor is a key priority behind Kin Fertility's new subscription service.
"The reality is, a lot of women are forgetting their pill and forgetting to renew their script and some women are actually coming off the pill because going to the doctor every few months gets put into the 'too hard basket'," said Liu.
Especially for women in rural areas, in order to just get a doctors appointment, it will take a couple of weeks.
"So really, what we’re trying to do is ensure that women can still get safe and convenient access to the pill, and we’re just making that as easy as possible for them."
Who's behind it?
The Kin Fertility healthcare platform was spearheaded by Nicole Liu, a 25-year-old woman with a background in investment banking. It was her own struggles with fertility and health that prompted her to turn her attention towards the healthcare space.
"I think where it all started was my own struggles with fertility," she told 10 daily. "I was at a pretty young age diagnosed with polycystic ovaries syndrome, which is a reproductive condition."
I was told by a doctor that I might be infertile. Obviously that brought up a tonne of pressure for me.
Following her diagnosis, Liu struggled to find accurate and accessible information about her condition and noticed a stigma that plagued the women's health space.
This is why she launched Kin Fertility, beginning as an information platform and now transforming into a business out to revolutionise a woman's ability to take control of her own health.
Following the launch of the contraceptive pill subscription service, the team are now turning their attention towards developing an online test to measure fertility hormones in order to provide women with more information about their personal fertility.
For Liu, women's health is of the upmost importance. But face-to-face contact with doctors isn't the only way to approach the issue.
"All the doctors on Kin currently tell these women to get their annual health check ups in order to get their cervical screening test, blood tests, STI tests --all of that. And we absolutely encourage that," she said.
"But it’s really for the contraceptive pill, you do not need to be going to the doctor every three to six months."
By removing a lot of the inconvenience from the current contraceptive pill process, Australian women have now been provided a modern and enticing way to take the reins on their own health.
Featured Image: Getty