Finding the birth control that’s right for you is extremely important. Even though Nurx’s health care providers can take care of everything for you, staying active and engaged in your birth control conversation can help you find the option that works best for you.
“Having a discussion that meets your needs is incredibly important,” said Julie Chor, M.D., M.P.H., who is an assistant professor of OB-GYN at the University of Chicago. “If your method of birth control doesn’t fit with your lifestyle or causes unpleasant side effects, you may be less likely to stick with it, which can increase your risk of an unplanned pregnancy.”
Not sure how to get started? Here are a few questions medical professionals agree you should ask before choosing birth control.
1. What Hormones Are in This?
Not all birth controls are created equal. Many rely on varying levels of hormones to accomplish the same effects.
“The only method that contains both [the hormones] estrogen and progesterone are the combination birth control pills, Nuvaring, and patch,” said Dr. Sheila Loanzon, a board-certified OB-GYN. “There is availability for a progesterone-only oral pill, and progesterone only is available in the Depo Provera injection, Nexplanon rod, and Mirena IUD.”
Finding out the different levels of hormones is important, as many women are susceptible to hormonal imbalances if they choose the incorrect dosage.
2. What Are the Side Effects?
Dr. Chor notes that “[c]ertain medical conditions such as poorly controlled high blood pressure, medications you take, and behaviors such as smoking can impact how a birth control method works and can increase your risk of serious issues such as blood clots.”
You definitely don’t want to experience any of those! That’s why it’s best to confer with your doctor about side effects. Another common side effect for most women is a change in bleeding patterns, but this can vary depending on your age, health history, and lifestyle.
3. How Often Do I Take This?
Different birth control methods all have different instructions, which is why Dr. Beth McAvey, a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist and fertility specialist, recommends asking your doctor “how often one needs to remember to use the [birth control] method.”
It’s common for birth control pills to come in either 28- or 21-day packs that should be taken on a daily basis. Rings, on the other hand, can last for three weeks, while IUDs don’t have to be touched for five to 10 years.
4. Are There Any Additional Benefits?
Did you know that there’s more to birth control than just preventing pregnancy? In fact, birth control can be used to treat acne, heavy periods, and polycystic ovary syndrome.
“As long as your doctor rules out a more serious condition that’s causing your symptoms, choosing the right contraceptive could reduce or resolve an issue you have,” said Dr. Chor.
5. How Does It Work?
If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you may want to avoid certain forms of birth control as they might have a negative effect on your body. Additionally, your pre-existing conditions might cause your birth control to be ineffective.
For example, Dr. Loanzon notes that if you have liver issues, you should “avoid birth control pills so as not to cause further damage to this vital organ.” You’ll also want to let your doctor know about “if you have regular periods, painful periods, self or family history of breast cancer, stroke, blood clots in legs or lungs, liver issues, elevated blood pressure, and many more.”
These are just a few questions to get you started at your next OB-GYN appointment. Once you’ve narrowed down the best birth control for you, order it through Nurx to save big and skip the repeated trips to the pharmacy.
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