What's Love Got To Do With It? A Patient-Centered Conversation Around Birth Control
Love it. Hate it. Need it. Don’t want it. Want it, but can’t afford it.
Bloating. Too much bleeding. Not enough bleeding. Depression. Mood swings. Headaches. Increased chance of breast and ovarian cancer.
Reduced pain during periods. Improvement from symptoms of endometriosis. Prevention of unintended pregnancy. Lowered chance of ovarian and breast cancer...
Is it any wonder women have conflicting thoughts about birth control? From side effects and risk, to benefits and prevention of pregnancy, making an autonomous choice about your reproductive life plan and how to manage your menstrual cycle is not easy.
And talking about it with your provider is often...not easy.
Many women don’t feel supported in their quest to find the right birth control. Over the years I’ve heard women say they are unsure of which method to pick, are uncomfortable with specific side effects, have heard horror stories from friends about specific methods, are frustrated that the burden of preventing an unintended pregnancy falls on them (c'mon, male birth control!), or feel pressured by their provider to pick an option they don't want.
So what does a patient-centered conversation around birth control look like? Below are a list of questions your provider is *hopefully* asking you and some questions you can ask yourself to help clarify your birth control goals.
1. What is important in a method for you?
There is no wrong answer to this question, only a personal one specific to you and your goals. The right birth control is the right one for you- whatever the method may be.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to get the ball rolling:
Do you want a method that is really easy to use? Or maybe you want something you can "get and forget". Maybe your goals are more focused on your menstrual cycle itself- Do you want the most control over your periods? Do you want the best method for preventing pregnancy? Do you want less cramping and lighter periods? Are you prone to depression and hate the side effects of hormones all together?
2. How important is it to prevent pregnancy? What is your intended timing for pregnancy?
Picking a method that aligns with your reproductive life plan can make you feel more satisfied with the method you choose. If you know you don't want kids make sure to talk to your provider about female or male sterilization vs. LARCs.
3. What factors influence your contraceptive choices?
Are you religious? Are you looking to prevent sexually transmitted infections? Is your partner receptive to methods that may interfere with the timing of intercourse? Do you have insurance barriers?
4. Do you want birth control to be free and easily accessible?