11 Birth control questions to ask your gynecologist

Your gynecologist is your go-to guide for everything about birth control. Whether you're curious about...

Your gynecologist is your go-to guide for everything about birth control. Whether you're curious about using contraception to avoid pregnancy, or need hormone therapy to control a medical condition, your doctor can point you in the right direction. Start a conversation with your gynecologist to learn more.

1. Do I need contraception?
If you're sexually active and not ready to be a parent, you're a good candidate for contraception. Since some methods--such as hormone-based pills--can alter your health, talk with your family doctor if you have any chronic medical conditions that require medication. You don't want any surprising drug interactions.

2. What are my options?
Although pills and male condoms are popular, there are several other forms of contraception to consider. Talk with your doctor about intrauterine devices (IUD), female condoms, a vaginal ring, diaphragms, spermicide foams, hormone-releasing patches, hormone implants, tubal ligation and sterilization.

3. Can I have a baby after using contraception?
It depends on which form of contraception you choose. Sterilization and tubal ligation are considered permanent ways to prevent fertilization and pregnancy. Some contraception, such as IUDs and hormone implants, offer long-term prevention, so you wouldn't be able to conceive until the contraception expires in a few months or years. If you're planning on starting a family soon, choose pills, spermicidal foams and condoms for protection. These only prevent pregnancy while they are in use.

4. Will this alter my health?
Pills, patches and vaginal rings all secrete hormones to alter the ovulation process and menstrual cycle. This increase in hormones can change your body's natural rhythm. Some women note an increase in clear, pimple-free skin, while others have more severe cramping during their menstrual cycles. If you try one method of contraception and have adverse effects, talk with your gynecologist about other options.

5. Can I stop taking it?
Just like any medication, you should consult your doctor before stopping any prescribed contraception method. Some require a weaning process before actively trying to get pregnant. If you're using over-the-counter contraception products from a drugstore, you can stop using them without any side effects.

6. Is birth control only for women?
Both men and women can prevent unwanted pregnancies and transmitting diseases. Condoms and spermicidal lubricants can be used by men. Women can also use spermicidal lubricants, a female condom and hormone-based prevention. Men can discuss proper use of contraception or permanent pregnancy control options with his family doctor or urologist.

7. Does contraception protect me from STIs and STDs?
Contraception is meant to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. Some contraception methods, however, multitask and also block the sharing of sexually transmitted infections and sexually transmitted diseases. Both male and female condoms keep bodily fluids containing infection and disease from passing to your partner. Abstaining from sexual contact is the only way to completely eliminate any risk of contracting an STI or STD.

8. Should I use more than one form of contraception?
You don't have to use multiple methods, but it does offer an increase in protection from pregnancy and disease. Some contraception methods are designed to work together. For example, lubricant made with a spermicide can be used with a condom. A woman can also be on a hormone-based contraception while a male partner uses a condom and spermicide.

9. Where do I get contraception?
You can get some contraception at a pharmacy without a prescription. This includes male condoms, spermicidal foams and spermicidal gels. Contraception methods that involve hormones or insertion into the body are only available via prescription from a gynecologist after completing a health exam. You doctor will teach you how to use these products, and require an annual exam to write another year's worth of prescriptions. You can pick up the contraception from the pharmacy that fills your prescription.

10. How much does it cost?
Some health insurance plans will partly or fully cover the cost of contraception for both medical uses and pregnancy prevention. You may be responsible for a co-pay or partial payment toward your deductible. If you don't have insurance, speak with your gynecologist about samples and clinics that offer reduced cost or free contraception.

11. Which option is best for me?
Choosing contraception is something to discuss with your sexual partner and gynecologist. Will one partner take on the responsibility, or should it be shared? How much does it cost? How often do I need to go to the doctor to get a prescription? Give your gynecologist a call today to schedule an appointment to discuss your sexual health and options for pregnancy prevention.

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