Few things are fun about being adult. You’ve got bills to pay, groceries to buy, and doctor’s appointments to make. Sure, there are some things you can put off when you’re just not feeling like leaving the couch. But, determining the best birth control method for you isn’t one of them. It may not be a comfortable or pleasant subject for some to discuss, and women's reproductive rights are certainly a hot button and divisive issue in both politics and everyday life. But as a woman who has all ownership over her body, it's an important thing to figure out.
Surprisingly, one of the biggest issues women may have when trying to determine which birth control method is right for them, is that they either don't know what questions they should be asking, or they're too embarrassed to ask. I've seen this firsthand with women I know who still carry around the stigma of an old-fashioned world. But there are plenty of questions to consider when picking out your birth control, so don't worry if you don't know what or how to ask them yet.
I recently spoke with Dr. Rashmi Kudesia, a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist in New York, to find out what factors women should consider when finding out what birth control works best for them. By asking yourself these 11 questions, you'll be able to find an effective birth control that fits into your lifestyle. And, at the end of the day, isn't that what you want most in a birth control?
1What's Your Schedule Like?
When figuring out which method of birth control you should use, Kudesia says that your schedule plays a huge roll in the decision process. "A main consideration is optimal and real-world effectiveness," she says. "Pills can be great, but not for women who travel a lot or otherwise may miss many pills." So if you don't have a super great memory or you're always adding things to your to-do-list, then perhaps choose something that requires less maintenance, like a patch.
2Do You Want Children Someday?
This is a tough question for any woman to ask herself, but it's a necessary one. For women planning pregnancies in the future, Kudesia suggests using a long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) like an implant or intrauterine device.
3What's Your Weight?
Despite the fact that body positivity is on the rise and fat-shaming seems to be on its way out, weight is still a touchy topic for many women. But it turns out that your size has quite an impact on your birth control. "Women who are overweight or obese do have a higher failure or complication rate with some contraceptives," Kudesia explains. Be open with your doctor about your weight so they can find the most effective method for you.
4Do You Smoke?
Did you know that smoking can have a direct influence on your birth control? "Smoking is definitely a contraindication to hormonal contraception," Kudesia says. "Particularly in women over 35-years-old because of the risks of forming a blood clot." So not only can it reduce the effectiveness, but it puts you at risk for some serious circulatory issues. If you really want to start using a birth control, you may have to quit your habit first.
5How Does Each Method Work?
You probably know the basics of birth control, yet there are a surprising amount of dissimilarities between the methods. Knowing these will help you figure out which one works best for your lifestyle.
6Does Brand Name Versus Generic Matter?
I know some women who refuse to use generic versions of medicine because they think that name brands are somehow safer or more reliable. But Kudesia says that's far from true. "As long as the medication is obtained at a U.S. pharmacy, it should be completely fine to use," she says. Do make sure to speak up if you ever experience a side effect, regardless of whether you use generic or name brand.
7What's Your Plan B?
"Many women do not understand the options if they make a mistake, like forgetting to take a pill or having a condom break," Kudesia says. Knowing the backup plans for you chosen method can go a long way into making it more affective. As Kudesia says, women "shouldn't be embarrassed to seek out emergency contraception in these cases if they really want to avoid a pregnancy."
8What Is Your History?
No, I'm not talking about your sexual history, although that may be worth discussing. You should disclose any known or suspected health conditions you may have to your doctor. This can keep you from choosing a harmful method, or help you pick one with extra perks. As an example, Kudesia says women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrom (PCOS), should try birth control pills, as they can help prevent the formation of ovarian cysts or irregular bleeding patterns.
11What Does The Doctor Want You To Know?
So many of these tips and questions have been answered by the lovely Dr. Kudesia, but what's the main thing she wants to tell you? "Women should feel empowered to take charge of their fertility, whether trying to avoid or achieve pregnancy. Understanding your body, and the steps one can take to optimize their long-term health and fertility even at a young age, are very important!" Preach it, Dr. K!