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Boston

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OVERVIEW

In Boston, you will find many health care resources available to you. You'll need a prescription to obtain birth control, but there are no age restrictions or any forms of parental permission required for minors to obtain a prescription. If you want emergency contraception (the morning after pill), it can be purchased in pharmacies or you can also access it (for free or a reduced cost) at health centers. There are many centers where you can get an STI test, some of which we list below in the "Sexually Transmitted Infections" section, as well as support groups for people with Hepatitis C, herpes, HIV and other infections. You can obtain an abortion at health centers or hospitals and, while state laws are much less restrictive than other states, some restrictions apply, especially for minors (who typically need parental consent). You can access many medications, including the HPV vaccine, PrEP and PEP, in Boston, as well. Please refer to the information below for more specific details.

Contraception (Birth Control)[edit]

General Note: There are many types of contraceptives, also known as "birth control," including IUDs, oral contraceptives, patches, shots, and condoms, etc. If you would like to view a full list, click here.

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

In Massachusetts, you need a prescription to obtain most birth control, except for condoms, spermicide and a few other methods. If you're a minor (under 18 years old), you can get a prescription for birth control (no parental consent is required). However, if you want to be on the safe side, you can choose to go to a Title X Clinic. These clinics are completely confidential, which means that your appointment and billing will be confidential.

At Title X Clinics, teens and adults can receive sexual and reproductive health care. They charge on a sliding-scale basis. They may be able to give you a prescription to birth control pills, as well as condoms and sexual health counseling. If you pay for their services with family health insurance and you're a teenager, your parents may see that you visited the clinic in their bills.

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

Birth control sold in the USA
Condoms
  • You can get condoms in grocery stores, drug stores, convenience stores and online. There are no age restrictions for purchasing condoms. Typically, a 12-pack of condoms costs around $12. Female condoms cost around $2 to $4 per condom. You can also get free condoms at health centers (like Planned Parenthood), HIV testing centers and local health departments. Call 1-800-230-PLAN (7526) to learn where you can get free condoms in your area.

Here are some health facilities to access birth control in Boston:

  • Planned Parenthood - Greater Boston Health Center: You can get birth control implant, birth control pill, birth control shot, birth control vaginal ring (NuvaRing), condom, female condom, counseling on the fertility awareness method, IUD (hormonal), IUD (copper), spermicide and sterilization for women (Essure) at a reduced cost. Address: 1055 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA, 02215, (800) 258-4448
  • Fenway Health: "We offer free or reduced cost services for patients who are: 19 years old or under, over 19 years old and uninsured or underinsured and earning below 200% of the federal poverty line." They can give you birth control pills, implants and IUDs. Address: 1340 Boylston St, Boston, MA, 02140, (617) 927-6000
  • Women’s Care of Tufts Medical Center: They have provide low-cost and LGBT-friendly services."We can help you choose from all currently available contraceptive methods, including Mirena and Paragard IUDs, and Nexplanon subdermal implants." You can request a female provider. They accept health insurance and people who are uninsured. Address: 800 Washington Street, Boston, MA, 02111, (617) 636-1379
  • Adolescent Medicine Clinic Floating Hospital for Children Tufts Medical Center: This is a program that specifically works with adolescents and teenagers. They can give you birth control pills or the implant at a low cost. Health insurance accepted and LGBT-friendly. Address: 800 Washington Street, Boston, MA, 02111, (617) 636-5255
  • Boston Medical Center: " We offer the most up to date contraception options including intrauterine devices (IUDs), hormonal implants, and injectable methods and we are able to take care of patients with medical complications and special needs." They provide low-cost services. Accepts insurance and also takes the uninsured. LGBT-friendly. Address: Doctors Office Building, 720 Harrison Avenue, 11th Floor, Boston, MA, 02118, (617) 414-2000.
  • Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center: They can provide low-cost services for birth control shots, implants and IUDs (with same-day insertion). "All hormonal, barrier, and intrauterine contraceptive methods are currently readily available including Essure sterilization and Nexplanon insertions." They accept health insurance. Address: 330 Brookline Ave., Boston, MA, 02215, (617) 667-3736.
  • Somerville Teen Connection - Cambridge Health Alliance: You can get birth control pills, implants and IUDs (with same-day insertion). They have sliding-scale fees and accept insurance. "To make an appointment to see a family planning counselor, call 617-591-6746 or the clinical site directly." Address: 81 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA, 02143, (617) 575-5690.
  • Nicole H. Boudreau, M.D., PC: She's highly rated on Yelp (but she may not be cheap). She's affiliated with St. Elizabeth's Medical Center. She can provide birth control pills, implants and IUDs.Address: 1180 Beacon Street, Suite 2C, Brookline, MA, 02446, (617) 232-0440.
  • Mt Auburn Practice for Women: They're highly-rated on Yelp, and they can provide birth control pills, implants and IUDs. They're LGBT-friendly, and they accept both health insurance and the uninsured. Address: 521 Mt Auburn St, Suite 103, Watertown, MA, 02472, (617) 926-2414.

Costs[edit]

Emergency Contraception (Morning After Pill)[edit]

Important Notes: Emergency contraception may prevent pregnancy for three days (72 hours) and sometimes five days (120 hours) after unprotected sex. Take EC as soon as possible after unprotected sex. If you don't have access to dedicated EC, oral contraceptives can be used as replacement EC, but remember the following: 1) Only some contraceptives work as EC 2) Different contraceptives require different dosages and time schedules to work as EC 3) You must only use the first 21 pills in 28-day packs and 4) They may be less effective than dedicated EC. For general information on emergency contraceptives, click here and here.

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

Anyone (no matter their age) can buy Plan B One-Step, My Way, Next Choice One Dose, and AfterPill over-the-counter or on-line without a prescription. If you want the ella pill, you'll need a prescription (regardless of age).

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

In the United States, you'll generally be able to find Plan B One-Step, Next Choice One-Dose and My Way in pharmacies. AfterPill is available only on-line. Here's a full breakdown of what you can expect to find, thanks to the Princeton EC Website:

Dedicated Products / Anti-Progestin Take 1 pill within 120 hours after unprotected sex:

  • ella

Dedicated Products / Progestin Only Take 1 pill within 120 hours after unprotected sex:

  • My Way
  • Next Choice One Dose
  • Plan B One-Step
  • Take Action
  • AfterPill

Take 2 pills within 120 hours after unprotected sex:

  • Levonorgestrel Tablets (available from a pharmacist without a prescription)

If you can't access emergency contraception, many oral contraceptives can be used as replacement EC. The list of potential contraceptives that can be used for this purpose is very long, and instructions vary according to the specific brand. So, to find specific instructions based on the brands you may have available, please check out the Princeton EC Website. You can search for EC under "United States" and see recommended pills and dosages on that site.

Important Note: If you have been raped and want emergency contraception, you can get it at an emergency room or hospital. You can also call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673), which is open 24 hours and will let you know where you can get EC. For more information, you can also visit the RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) website.

Costs[edit]

The average price of over-the-counter EC is $40-$50 at a retail pharmacy and $20-$25 on-line (for example, www.afterpill.com). Women's Health Clinics also have EC available at subsidized prices. Individual health insurance plans may also cover EC (need to check with individual plans).

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs/STDs)[edit]

Important Notes - Learn about PEP and PrEP: If you think that you've been recently exposed to HIV (i.e. within 72 hours), seek out PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis). It's a month-long treatment to prevent HIV infection after exposure, and it may be available in your city. Take PEP as soon as possible. For more information, click here. If you are at risk of HIV exposure, seek out PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis). It's a daily oral pill that can prevent HIV infection before exposure. To learn more about PrEP, click here.

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

The United States has no travel restrictions related to HIV status.

Testing Facilities[edit]

For a full list of STI testing facilities in Boston, click here.

  • Boston STD Clinic: Tests for HIV, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, and Hepatitis C, and they give results within one week. They have a walk-in clinic (you don't need to make an appointment. . However, if you would like to make an appointment you can call (617) 414-4081."Bring your photo ID card and health insurance card. They speak English, Spanish, French, Haitian Creole. Boston Medical Center STD Clinic: 725 Albany Street, Suite 9C, Boston, MA 02118. Telephone: (617) 414-4081. Email: confidentialSTD@bmc.org.
  • Project TRUST: Tests for HIV, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis and Hepatitis C. Results available within 2 weeks. "Project TRUST is a drop-in HIV and STD testing center. Project TRUST is a great option for STD testing if you do not have any symptoms." Address: Boston Medical Center, Project TRUST, 721 Massachusetts Avenue. Boston, MA 02118. Telephone: (617) 414-4495 . Email: confidentialPT@bmc.org.
  • AIDS Action Committee: "We offer free screening for HIV, hepatitis C, and other common sexually transmitted diseases, such as syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia. We also offer case management and medical referrals." To schedule an appointment, call 617.450.1987. They have locations in Boston (75 Amory St) and Cambridge (359 Green St).
  • Fenway Health: They have walk-in hours or you can make an appointment. "In order to book a slot, please call 617.267.0159 to pre-register. Make sure to call us right away if you have symptoms of an STD, or someone you have recently had sex with told you they were just diagnosed with an STD. STD testing for those in need include comprehensive testing for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, Hepatitis C and HIV."

Support[edit]

  • Boston Herpes Support and Social Group: "Providing information and support to people for over 25 years, our mission is to provide people with accurate information, support and hope in a discreet manner."
  • Hepatitis C Support Groups: There's 2 groups that meet (that we know of). Click on the link for details.
  • Your Health Boston: This is a sexual health website and resource, especially focused on HIV testing and living with HIV.
  • Multicultural AIDS Coalition (MAC): "The mission of the Multicultural AIDS Coalition (MAC) is to mobilize communities of color to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic. We work to ensure high quality, accessible prevention and treatment services for people living with HIV, at high risk for becoming infected, or closely affected by the disease."
  • AIDS Action Committee: "Founded in 1983, AIDS Action is New England’s largest AIDS service organization. For three decades, we’ve been advocating at all levels of government for fair and effective AIDS policies, conducting cutting edge HIV prevention programs, and providing health and wellness services to people already living with HIV."
  • Connected Boston: "The Multicultural AIDS Coalition is happy to announce the #CONNECTEDBoston Campaign. In collaboration with Fenway Health and AIDS Action Committee, the campaign uses new and traditional media to reach black and brown gay, bisexual and queer men in the Greater Boston area."

Costs[edit]

Medications & Vaccines[edit]

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

  • If you think you have a urinary tract infection (UTI), you'll need to visit a doctor, who will give you a check-up and test to see if you have a UTI. If you do have a UTI, you will be prescribed antibiotics to treat the infection. You cannot get UTI antibiotic medication without a prescription.
  • If you have a yeast infection, you can get treatment over-the-counter (no prescription needed). The most common yeast infection treatment in the United States is called "Monistat." There are different treatment plans (for example, 1 day, 3 days and 7 days). It's recommended to do more than 1 day to completely clear the infection.
  • You should be able to access the HPV vaccine in the United States.
  • You can get PrEP in Boston. Click on this link for details.
  • You should be able to access PEP in Boston. Contact your health provider or local hospital for details.

Costs[edit]

Menstruation[edit]

Note: In addition to pads and tampons, you can also use menstrual cups and menstrual underwear for your period. To learn more about menstrual cups, click here. To learn more about menstrual underwear, click here.

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

There is no social stigma against tampons in Boston or generally in the United States. They can be obtained as readily as pads in most drug stores.

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

In Boston, you can find pads and tampons in most supermarkets, convenience stores and pharmacies. If you would like to buy menstrual cups, they can be found at CVS Pharmacy, Whole Foods and Walgreens (24 School Street). There may be some menstrual cup brands (like Lunette or MoonCup) that are best to purchase online. You can also find eco-friendly menstrual products at Whole Foods and CVS.

Costs[edit]

Gynecological Exams[edit]

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

Costs[edit]

Pregnancy[edit]

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

In the United States, the National Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guarantees 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave for women. But the FLMA has loopholes (for example, it doesn't apply to companies with less than 50 employees). So, for this reason, many women don't actually receive 12 weeks of maternity leave, and many women (even if their employers do qualify) can't take off 12 weeks of unpaid work. There is currently no comparable federal paternity leave policy in the United States.

For details on Massachusetts policy on maternity leave, click here.

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

Costs[edit]

Abortion[edit]

Important Note: There are two main types of abortions: medical (also known as the "abortion pill") and surgical (also known as "in-clinic"). For medical abortions, you take a pill to induce abortion. For surgical abortions, a procedure is performed to induce abortion. For general information about medical and surgical abortions, click here.

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

In the United States, abortion has been fully legal since the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision (1973). In Massachusetts, abortion laws are notably less restrictive than in other states. However, there are still some restrictions to consider. For an abortion to be legal in Massachusetts, it must be performed by an M.D. in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy. After 24 weeks of pregnancy, an abortion can only be performed if the M.D. provides a written statement that confirms that the abortion is necessary to save the life of the woman or to preserve the physical or mental health of the woman. No abortion procedures are allowed that destroy or injure the fetus (except in rare exceptions, which would need to be approved by the M.D.).[1]

If you're 18 years old and want an abortion in Massachusetts, it's required that one of your parents gives consent (i.e. "parental consent"). If you cannot manage to get parental consent, you can potentially get a "judicial bypass." This is when you ask a judge for permission instead or, if it's an emergency (for medical reasons), you can get special permission.[2]

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

For a full list of abortion providers in Massachusetts), click here. The list may be slightly outdated since the information is from 2013.

  • Planned Parenthood - Greater Boston Health Center: The abortion services include abortion pill (medication abortion), in-clinic abortion, sedation options (medication to make the abortion more comfortable), pre- and post-abortion patient education, post-abortion follow-up exams, referrals for other abortion services, as needed. A follow-up exam is required for all medication abortions. "Our Sexual Health Counseling & Referral Hotline is free, anonymous and confidential. Call 1-877-686-5772, option 3." Languages: English and Spanish.
  • Beth Israel Medical Center: Provides surgical abortions (for up to 23 weeks and 5 days) and medical abortions (for up to 9 weeks). Phone: (617) 667-8859.
  • Boston Medical Center: Provides surgical abortions (up to 23 weeks) and medical abortions (up to 8 weeks and 6 days). Phone: (617) 414-2000
  • Brigham and Women's Hospital: Provides surgical abortions (up to 23 weeks) and medical abortions (up to 9 weeks). Phone: (617) 732-4090
  • Cambridge Health Alliance: Provides only surgical abortions for up to 17 weeks of pregnancy. Phone: (617) 665-2800
  • Massachusetts General Hospital: Provides surgical abortions (up to 23 weeks and 6 days). They don't do medical abortions.
  • Mount Auburn Hospital: Provides surgical abortions (up to 22 weeks and 5 days) and medical abortions (up to 9 weeks). Phone: (617) 499-5151

Tufts Medical Center: Provides surgical abortions (up to 23 weeks and 6 days) and medical abortions (9 weeks). Phone: (617) 636 - 2229

Important Note: Be careful -- there are some places that advertise themselves as abortion clinics, but they're actually anti-abortion clinics, typically run by pro-life Christian conservatives. They're known as crisis pregnancy centers (PRC). The main issues with these centers are that 1) They often falsely advertise themselves as abortion clinics and 2) They don't allow people to make choices for themselves (they only accept one choice). For these reasons, if you're looking for an abortion provider, we urge you to carefully select a trusted service. For more information on PRC, click here.

Costs[edit]

Nationwide, the abortion pill can cost $800, but often less. For an in-clinic procedure, abortions can cost $1500, but often less. You can often find cheaper options at Planned Parenthood or some clinics. For low-income women (regardless of citizenship status), there are a variety of programs that may help pay for these costs.

If you need help paying for an abortion, call the National Abortion Federation Hotline at 1-800-772-9100, Monday–Friday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday–Sunday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Eastern Daylight Time). The hotline can tell you where and how to get financial help for an abortion in the U.S.

Advocacy & Counseling[edit]

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

  • For emergencies, call 911 to get police and an ambulance.
  • If you're dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline Number at 1-800-787-3224. "Our highly-trained advocates are available 24/7 to talk confidentially with anyone experiencing domestic violence, seeking resources or information, or questioning unhealthy aspects of their relationship. "
  • The Network/La Red A Boston-based, survivor-led organization focused on ending partner abuse in LGBT, BDSM, polyamorous, and queer communities. They can provide support (individual and support groups), advocacy, a safehome program for stays of up to 4 weeks, and legal help. 24 hour hotline: 617-742-4911
  • My Life My Choice: "Through survivor-led programs we work to end commercial sexual exploitation of children by empowering youth and their allies to fight back." Address: 989 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215. Phone: 617-779-2179. Email: mlmcinfo@jri.org
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 1-800-273-8255. "We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals."
  • If you have been abused and are in need of support, the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) may be able to provide help and counseling. Visit their website call their 24-hour crisis hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE.
  • The Trevor Project (Lifeline): Call: 866-488-7386. This is a 24/7 hotline for LGBT youth. "Our trained counselors are here to support you 24/7. If you are a young person in crisis, feeling suicidal, or in need of a safe and judgment-free place to talk, call the Trevor Lifeline now at 866-488-7386."
  • LGBT Helpline from Fenway Health: (25+) 617.267.9001. Toll-Free: 888.340.4528. The line is confidential and anonymous.
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender National Hotline: Toll-free: 1-888-843-4564. HOURS: Monday thru Friday from 1pm to 9pm, pacific time (Monday thru Friday from 4pm to midnight, eastern time). Saturday from 9am to 2pm, pacific time. (Saturday from noon to 5pm, eastern time). "All of our services are free and confidential.We speak with callers of all ages about coming-out issues, relationship concerns, bullying, workplace issues, HIV/AIDS anxiety and safer-sex information, and lots more!"
  • For a list of feminist therapists in Boston, click here.

Costs[edit]

List of Additional Resources[edit]

  • National Organization for Women - Boston Chapter: "Boston NOW is that city chapter of the National Organization for Women. As a city chapter, Boston NOW engages in outreach and advocacy to make an impact in the greater Boston area."
  • BOSTON ALLIANCE OF GAY, LESBIAN, BISEXUAL & TRANSGENDER YOUTH (BAGLY): "In BAGLY’s values: Respect, Diversity, Social Justice, Youth Leadership…In feeling safe… In having fun… In equal access to public accomodations, employment and credit for transgender and gender variant people… In building a strong, youth led, social justice community… In conflict resolution…In change… "
  • Boston Feminists for Liberation: "Boston Feminists for Liberation is a group of trans and cis women who aim to end female oppression and all intersecting forms of oppression, including racism, classism, cissexism, heterosexism, bodyshaming, fat hatred, ageism and ableism."
  • Boston GLOW: "Boston GLOW is a breeding ground for the modern day superwoman. GLOW fosters opportunities for women of all ages to become empowered community leaders and active world citizens."
  • Prison Birth Project: "Prison Birth Project (PBP) supports, encourages, and trains currently and formerly incarcerated mothers and trans* parents to become community leaders within a reproductive justice framework."
  • Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition: "Founded in 2001, the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) is an advocacy, education, and community-building organization that works to end discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression."

References[edit]

  1. Massachusetts Abortion Laws
  2. Sex in the States: Massachusetts