By Wanda Vander Wyst, PA-C
“You’re pregnant.” That news can trigger an array of different emotions in women, depending on their reproductive goals. You can control when and if you wish to pursue pregnancy. The challenge is to find the birth control option that best suits your life, health and values. A method that’s right for one woman may not be right for another, based on each person’s unique needs. And that’s where we can help.
Your yearly gynecology exam is an excellent opportunity to discuss your birth control options and questions with your healthcare provider. After reviewing your medical history, our goal is to work with you to determine which choices are or are not good options for you. A birth control method that was right for you in the past may not be your best option now, because as your life changes, so do your needs.
When Choosing a Method of Birth Control, Consider…
- How effective is it? How well does it prevent pregnancy? The failure rates of some methods are significantly higher than others. How important is it for you to avoid pregnancy?
- How does it work? Consider your lifestyle, comfort level using a method, likes and dislikes. Any allergies to latex, spermicide or skin adhesives? Do you want a method that is private or not detectable? Will you remember a daily pill? Are you OK inserting the birth control in the vagina yourself? Do needles concern you?
- How easy is it to use? Consider convenience. Some options require more effort, and method success relies on consistent use to avoid unplanned pregnancy.
- What are your goals? Do you want short-term or long-term? Reversible or permanent? Are you planning a pregnancy? If so, when? Some nonpermanent birth control methods may cause delayed return to fertility.
- Do you need a prescription or a provider visit to get it? Some options are available over the counter and others require a prescription or office procedure usually linked to an office visit.
- Does it reduce risk of sexually transmitted diseases? Condoms are important regarding this issue. Even when another birth control method is used, also using a condom can reduce risk of STDs.
- Does it contain hormones? Your health history may help determine if this is an issue for you.
- How much does it cost? It is a good idea to review your insurance plan to determine coverage for various birth control methods, also considering any out-of-pocket costs you may need to pay.
- What is your health history? Tell your provider if you smoke, have a history of blood clots, stroke, high blood pressure, heart or liver disease, migraines, or cancer of the breast, liver or lining of the uterus. Discuss family history involving blood clots, stroke or cancers. Are you breastfeeding? Discuss your weight, blood pressure, prior experience using a method and any medications you are taking. Some medications can actually reduce how well some methods of birth control work, causing increased risk of pregnancy. Some methods of birth control may affect how well your other medications work.
Evaluating the Pros and Cons
There are more – and safer – birth control options than ever before. Some birth control methods have possible side effects, which go away after your body has time to adjust, while others do not. Some side effects can also be “positives,” such as decreasing your risk of ovarian and endometrial cancers, lowering your risk of noncancerous ovarian cysts and iron deficiency anemia, and even helping to reduce acne. Would you also like to manage heavy periods and cramps or reduce how often you have a period? There are birth control methods that can help with these issues.
Consider your birth control options. Each method has pros and cons, and we can help you make the right choice. Call us at 920-749-4000.