Questions About Contraception? Ask Your Doctor

Contributed by: Sarah Pickle, MD, Assistant Professor of Family & Community Medicine and Obstetrics & Gynecology

It’s a hot topic these days, especially for young women, but the topic can come with many misconceptions. Contraception/birth control has been around for more than 50 years. Over time, we’ve seen new contraceptive methods develop and attitudes towards their usage change. With the number of misconceptions still surrounding contraception and the different options available, it’s important to talk to a health care provider about their benefits and risks. Here are a few questions many of my patients ask:

What are my options for contraceptives?

There are several options available to prevent pregnancy, regulate your menstrual cycle, and help curb PMS symptoms or improve acne. Taking a birth control pill is one simple option and doesn’t involve implantable devices or shots. However, with ease comes the possibility of forgetting to take the medication each day, which lowers the effectiveness of the pill.  So, if you easily forget things or prefer not to take pills, a birth control patch, vaginal ring, shot, arm implant or intrauterine device (IUD) could be a better option.

What are the potential risks or side effects?

Birth control is very safe. Like with all medications, patients may experience minor side effects that can differ depending on the birth control method. Most of these minor side effects, such as irregular bleeding, get better over time. Serious side effects, such as blood clots, are very, very rare.

How effective are contraceptives?

The long-acting reversible devices (like the arm implant or IUDs) are the most effective forms of birth control to prevent pregnancy because they do not rely on a patient to remember to use the method—once the device is in place, it provides birth control (for years!) until the device is removed.  The effectiveness of other birth control methods depends on a few factors—including a patient’s ability to remember to use the birth control method and other medications a patient may be taking. However, remember that only condoms are effective at preventing sexually transmitted infections, so use a condom in addition to your selected birth control method.

With so many options, choosing a birth control method can seem overwhelming. You might try a few different methods before you find the one that works best for you. If you have a daughter who is a teenager or young adult, it’s a good idea for you and her to talk to a doctor about whether or not your daughter should be on birth control. Being on birth control doesn’t mean you’re giving your daughter permission to have sex. Birth control helps control menstrual flow, irregular periods, bad cramps, and acne.

With back-to-school season here, it’s a perfect time to schedule an appointment for you and/or your daughter. Give us a call at (513) 475-UC4U so we can help you or your daughter make the best decision.

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