GOOD

8 Contraception Questions Every Woman Should Ask

From first-time users to moms getting back into birth control, make sure these topics get covered.

Illustration by Tyler Hoehne

It seems like every couple years a new contraceptive for women comes on the market. Decades after the FDA approved “the pill” as birth control, women have seen their options expand into shots, patches, implants, sponges, etc … each with their own benefits, drawbacks, and side effects.


Healthcare providers know different options work better for particular patients. Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Adolescence published a new policy on teens and contraceptives. The Academy urges that pediatricians learn the recommendations for “special populations” such as young women with disabilities, HIV, or a high body mass index. Most notably, the updated policy recommends long-term contraceptives, like implants and IUDs, for teens.

The problem? Teens and adults alike don’t know enough about the wide variety of contraceptives available to them and oftentimes don’t ask their doctors important questions, which could lead to contraception failure. Make sure that your doctor goes through every single option available to you. You deserve it.

Here are eight key questions for patients to ask their doctors when seeking new contraceptives:

1. I have ______ pre-existing condition/am pre-disposed for _____. Which is the best form of birth control for me?

Who should ask: new patients, students seeking contraceptives from their university’s healthcare providers (who are likely not familiar with the patient’s medical background), women living abroad, and anyone whose contraceptive provider is not their general practitioner.

Why: Though some forms of contraception aggravate an illness or condition, some may alleviate your symptoms or prevent future illness.

Tips: If you have anemia, acne, a history of ovarian cancer in your family, severe menstrual cramps, hirsutism, or aggressive PMS, you should especially communicate this information and ask about the pill’s protection against these conditions.

2. What is the effectiveness of ___?

Who should ask: everyone.

Why: Contraceptives have different success rates. For example, hormonal methods are more effective than barrier methods and behavioral methods are less effective than those. Make sure you know the risks.

3. What are the side effects of ___?

Who should ask: everyone.

Why: You need to know.

4. What are the explicit instructions for how to use this form of birth control?

Who should ask: first-time contraceptive users and forgetful patients.

Why: Most contraceptive failure is due to incorrect or inconsistent application. For instance, taking the pill at the same time every single day is crucial.

Tips: Ask when your chosen birth control option will go into effect. Results are not always immediate and you’ll want to have a back-up plan when they’re not.

5. I have a _____ lifestyle. Does this affect my options?

Who should ask: frankly, most people.

Why: Sex habits, smoking, plans to have children eventually (or never), privacy issues, personal finances: These are all things you should discuss with your healthcare practitioner when choosing contraception.

Tips: Don’t be discouraged by financial stress. You may qualify for free birth control.

6. Will my other medications interfere with my chosen contraceptive?

Who should ask: anyone who takes daily or frequent medicine, including psychiatric prescriptions and over-the-counter things like acetaminophen.

Why: You’ll want to know if your other medications will interfere with the contraceptive’s effects, or vice versa.

Tips: A particular antibiotic (rifampim) is known to make the pill less effective, and some medications are rendered weak or overly powerful when taken in conjunction with certain contraceptives.

7. Do I need the full-dose pill or can I opt for the low-dose alternative?

Who should ask: people sensitive to or wary of hormonal birth control.

Why: Taking full-strength birth control pills may cause some pretty uncomfortable side effects ranging from vomiting to weight gain to depression. Some options now contain fewer hormones, causing fewer side effects while still providing a safe, functional form of contraception.

8. What do you recommend for somebody my age?

Who should ask: almost anyone old enough (or young enough) to want birth control.

Why: Depending on your age and lifestyle, your doctor will have different recommendations for you.

Don’t be afraid to do your own research either. Scientific journals, health professional organizations, and nonprofits like the AAP, The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Our Bodies Ourselves, Bedsider, Planned Parenthood, and the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals are all legitimate sources of information.

If money is an issue, call your health insurance provider ahead of time and ask about each option’s out-of-pocket cost. Check out Bedsider’s contraception method guide for a general idea of what each option costs.

Articles

For more than 20 years. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has served the citizens of Maine in the U.S. Senate. For most of that time, she has enjoyed a hard-fought reputation as a moderate Republican who methodically builds bridges and consensus in an era of political polarization. To millions of political observers, she exemplified the best of post-partisan leadership, finding a "third way" through the static of ideological tribalism.

However, all of that has changed since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Voters in Maine, particularly those who lean left, have run out of patience with Collins and her seeming refusal to stand up to Trump. That frustration peaked with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
NHM Vienna/Hans Reschreiter

Wealth inequality has been a hot topic of discussion as of late, but it's something that's occurred all throughout history. Class structure is a complicated issue, especially when you consider that haves and have nots have been in existence for over 4,000 years.

A study published in Science took a look at over 100 late Neolithic and early Bronze Age skeletons found in a burial site in southern Germany. The study "shed light on the complexity of social status, inheritance rules, and mobility during the Bronze Age." Partly by looking at their teeth and the artifacts they were buried with, researchers were able to discover that wealth inequality existed almost 4,000 years ago. "Our results reveal that individual households lasting several generations consisted of a high-status core family and unrelated low-status individuals, a social organization accompanied by patrilocality and female exogamy, and the stability of this system over 700 years," the study said.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture
via Truthout.org / Flickr and Dimitri Rodriguez / Flickr

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading voice in the Democratic parties progressive, Democratic Socialist wing, is expected to endorse Sanders' campaign at the "Bernie's Back" rally in Queens, New York this Saturday.

Fellow member of "the Squad," Ilhan Omar, endorsed him on Wednesday.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics

When former Pittsburgh Steelers' center Mike Webster committed suicide in 2002, his death began to raise awareness of the brain damage experienced by NFL football players. A 2017 study found that 99% of deceased NFL players had a degenerative brain disease known as CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). Only one out of 111 former football players had no sign of CTE. It turns out, some of the risks of traumatic brain injury experienced by heavily padded adults playing at a professional level also exist for kids with developing brains playing at a recreational level. The dangers might not be as intense as what the adults go through, but it can have some major life-long consequences.

A new PSA put out by the Concussion Legacy Foundation raises awareness of the dangers of tackle football on developing brains, comparing it to smoking. "Tackle football is like smoking. The younger I start, the longer I am exposed to danger. You wouldn't let me smoke. When should I start tackling?" a child's voice can be heard saying in the PSA as a mother lights up a cigarette for her young son.

Keep Reading Show less
via ICE / Flickr

The Connors family, two coupes from the United Kingdom, one with a three-month old baby and the other with twin two-year-olds, were on vacation in Canada when the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) turned their holiday into a 12-plus day-long nightmare.

On October 3, the family was driving near the U.S.-Canada border in British Columbia when an animal veered into the road, forcing them to make an unexpected detour.

The family accidentally crossed into the United States where they were detained by ICE officials in what would become "the scariest experience of our lives," according to a complaint filed with the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security.

Keep Reading Show less
Travel