Ladies, we need to talk about something very important.
Whether you’re using some sort of pharmaceutical birth control or not, there’s still plenty you need to know. The first thing is that you have to have that conversation with your doctor – even if it’s just to discuss the side effects or any medication interactions in case you ever need to use Plan B.
One of the things I hear a lot from friends is that when they went into their doctor and said they wanted birth control, the doc just wrote a prescription for the pill and sent them on their way.
That’s not right.
You and your doctor should be having a thorough conversation about the pros and cons of the many different options we have for birth control today. This isn’t the 1970s and the pill isn’t the best option for everyone. We no longer live in a one-size-fits-all world. You and your doctor need to make an informed decision on which course of action will work best for YOU, an individual, and YOUR needs.
For example, last year when I went in to talk to my primary care provider, we talked about how the pill was NOT the best choice for me because I already struggle with taking a daily medication. I’m almost 25 and I’ve only ever finished an entire course of antibiotics once, and the last time I was on the pill, I had more days where I forgot to take it than days where I actually did take it. To be honest, the only reason I remember to take my ADHD medication most days is because I can literally feel it when I don’t.
For some, oral contraception will be the right choice. For many, it won’t. That’s fine because this is 2017 and there are still a lot of other options. There’s the Nuvaring, the patch, shots, hormonal and non-hormonal intrauterine devices, and implants.
And when I mentioned before about discussing which birth control options work best for your needs, I don’t mean just for preventing Satan’s spawn from taking safe harbor in your uterus. I mean understanding other medical needs that you might have.
I was 14 when I first went on the pill. It wasn’t because I was sexually active, or that I was hoping to be sexually active anytime in the near future. It was because I had been hospitalized twice in a year and had an appendectomy because of multiple ovarian cysts. Hormonal contraception can prevent ovarian cysts from developing, and that’s exactly what I needed at that time.
I’ve had friends who started birth control for similar reasons, or to treat severe acne and severe menstrual cramps, regulate menstruation, and balance hormones. I’ve had friends who started birth control simply because becoming a mother isn’t in their current life plans. Whatever your reasons, they’re important and should be discussed with your doctor so you both can decide what will do what you need it to do.
Maybe you have a doctor who just wants to scribble on an Rx pad and duck out the door. You need to slow them down and tell them this is something you want to have an actual conversation about. Don’t worry about feeling like you’re inconveniencing them – this is their job.
And once you and your doctor make the decision, don’t let the conversation end there. When you go in for check-ups, let them know how it’s going. Is it causing irregular periods? Does it make you feel sluggish or slow? Does it cause you pain? Are your hormones all over the place? Is it just not working how you need it to work? Is it working phenomenally? Let your doctor know what’s working and what’s not working so you both can work on making adjustments. Maybe you tried an IUD and it just doesn’t feel right, or maybe you tried the pill and the hormones are too strong. Finding a birth control option that works for you might take some trial and error, and that’s okay. Your needs and your happiness are what matter most here.
It’s been almost a year since I had that conversation with my doctor. She and I decided pretty quickly that a long-acting reversible contraception option would be best. She wanted me to try a small hormonal IUD, which many of her younger patients choose. I made my voice heard and told her I’d rather go with another option because I could barely stand the pain of my most recent pelvic exam and I knew I wouldn’t be able to sit through the pain of her actually having to open up my cervix and shove a tiny plastic stick into my uterus. That’s when we decided the Nexplanon arm implant was the best option. I LOVE it. It fit everything I needed – very little pain, long-acting, no need for a daily pill, doesn’t interfere with other medical conditions I have, and prevents pregnancy. Honestly, the best part of this choice for me is that I haven’t had a period since July of last year. And I still have two more years with this little plastic stick in my upper arm.
Not to make this post political, but if you’ve been thinking about talking to your doctor about birth control, right now is the time to do it, while health insurance companies are still mandated to cover most birth control options. You might even have a plan that will cover an implant or IUD 100% — the only thing that wasn’t covered for my implant was the $7 of lidocaine to numb my arm.
If you’ve made it this far without rolling your eyes and saying, “I get it, Kelby. Talk to my doctor,” congrats. But I’m still going to reiterate: TALK. TO. YOUR. DOCTOR. Being a woman or trans man or anyone with a uterus, there is nothing more important than having open and clear communication with your doctor about your individual needs. Speak up for yourself and make your voice and your needs heard.