Illinois Makes a Contraception Breakthrough

Danielle Braff

Women in the Windy City can order and receive birth control without leaving the couch.
Sophia Yen of Pandia Health aims to get birth control to women in the easiest way possible.Credit Pandia Health.

By Danielle Braff

(Chicago) One of the top reasons why women don’t take their birth control is because they literally don’t have it in their hands, says Sophia Yen, MD, the co-founder and CEO of Pandia Health. A study by Cosmopolitan, which looked at 2,000 women, found that 70 percent have stopped taking their birth control pills or are thinking of quitting, opting instead for IUDs, shots or nothing at all. 

So Yen, a clinical associate professor at Stanford Medical School, created an entire company to make it as easy as possible for women in Illinois to get their birth control into their hands. 

Pandia Health, which launched in 2016 via Yen and her colleagues, Perla Ni and Elliott Blatt, but just delivered its full services to Illinois in July, offers women the ability to speak with a doctor over telehealth to discuss her birth control options for $20 annually; get prescribed the birth control; and receive that birth control in the mail free of charge.

Don’t live in Illinois? Pandia Health (Pandia is the Greek goddess of the moon, according to Greek mythology) is also available in 13 other states - or you order your birth control in the form of pills, patches or rings, while you’re on vacation in Illinois, Yen says.

“We bring birth control to wherever you have Internet or a mailbox,” says Yen, who has delivered to more than 4,000 women who are over the age of 18 so far. 

Yen thought of the idea while giving a talk to other physicians and residents about how to write birth control prescriptions. She was talking about why women don’t take the birth control they’re prescribed, and she realized that many women have what Yen describes as “pill anxiety.”

This is because women typically have just seven days before their birth control packs run out, and when they have to get to the pharmacy so their new prescription can be processed. If they don’t get to the pharmacy immediately, there will be a difre consequence. During her talk, Yen says she had an “aha” moment.

“When you write a prescription, you tie the patient to the pharmacy every month,” Yen says, explaining that fewer than half the states - or just 21 - allow doctors to offer yearly birth control prescriptions to their patients.

So she formed Pandea, which is essentially a subscription service for birth control for women by women led by doctors, is free to anyone with insurance via the Affordable Care Act (unless your employer is religious), and can be prescribed by her company without forcing women to take time out of their busy schedules. 

Women just have to provide their address, health insurance and pharmacy. If they need a new prescription entirely, they pay $20 for a doctor’s review, and their prescription will be mailed in generic or name-brand for free to their doors. 

In addition to providing birth control to prevent pregnancy, Yen says, her company will also help women who want to make their periods optional or have issues with painful periods.

“Our goal is for you to set it and forget it,” she says. Delivery is free, and the subscription will continue until you cancel it.

Since each state requires that the doctor prescribing get licensed in that state, Yen says, she’s making her way through the country to ensure the Pandia way for all. So far, she’s in 13 states, which covers 50 percent of the female population. 

For more information and to sign up for Pandia, check here.

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I'm a lifestyle writer with a focus on trends, fashion, parenting and business. My stories have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and more. I live just outside Chicago with my husband, daughter, two cats and a dog. I love to travel to exotic locations and to read memoirs.

Chicago, IL

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