The internet can help you research and answer questions, but when it comes to medical topics, a personalized evaluation wins every time. It’s no different when you’re mapping out a family planning strategy.
Dr. Ken Ostermann, OB/GYN and urogynecologist with Marshfield Clinic Health System, says contraceptive counseling with a trusted women’s health provider offers many benefits.
What is contraceptive counseling?
Ostermann notes that contraceptive counseling is essentially sitting down with a practitioner to review your family planning goals, discuss past methods you’ve liked or disliked, learn information about the various methods, and ultimately chat about what form of contraception best fits your current and future needs.
Here are six benefits of contraceptive counseling:
It accounts for your personal medical history
“Birth control is often considered a form of medication, so it’s important to think about it in the context of your personal health, your family history and any other prescriptions you’re taking,” Ostermann said.
For instance, if you have risk factors for breast cancer or some type of blood clotting disorder, your women’s health provider may steer you away from the pill. On the other hand, oral contraceptives actually decrease the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer, if those are concerns instead. A benefit of contraceptive counseling is that it helps you make the most informed decision for your personal health risks.
You’ll get relevant answers to your questions
We’ve all had that experience of Googling a question and sifting through endless pages of results that may not apply to our situation. When you’re talking to a practitioner who knows you, your goals and your background, they’ll be able to answer your questions in a meaningful and helpful way. Contraceptive counseling helps to alleviate concerns instead of adding to your confusion.
Align personal preferences with professional advice
Your provider wants to help you choose the right birth control method for you – one that makes you feel the most comfortable and works best with your lifestyle. They’ll factor in your preferences during counseling so you can make a shared decision. For instance, do you struggle to remember a pill every day? Would you prefer a hormone-free method? Let them know about anything you think is relevant during your contraceptive counseling session, and they can suggest options that will work well with your goals and preferences.
Save yourself from “analysis paralysis” research
Another one of the benefits of contraceptive counseling is that you’ll talk to a skilled women’s health practitioner who has dedicated years of professional study to research, so you don’t have to put yourself through hours of doing it yourself. Contraceptive counseling is like pinpointing precisely the information you need to make the right decision for you, all within a single conversation.
Plan for the short- and long-term
Whether you’re certain about your family planning goals or you expect them to evolve, contraceptive counseling is an opportunity to balance short-term and long-term considerations. For instance, if you know that you don’t want to have a baby for more than three years (or at all), an IUD or permanent birth control would be a low-maintenance, long-term option. If you think you want to start trying soon, a method you can stop and start easily could be more fitting, like barrier methods, the patch, or the pill.
Build a foundation to discuss any future issues
“When you have an established relationship with your women’s health provider, it sets you up for trusting and productive future encounters,” said Ostermann. “If you’re experiencing side effects or have questions about your birth control, you’ll be able to talk about them and reevaluate the plan using the baseline of mutual knowledge you already established during contraceptive counseling.”
Doing some initial research before your contraceptive counseling appointment is still a helpful step so that you’re prepared with questions to ask and an idea of what you’re looking for.
These and other benefits of contraceptive counseling can help you make the best decision for your situation. To get personalized answers and experience the benefits of contraceptive counseling for yourself, request an appointment at our women’s health clinic or call 920.885.6090 today.