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Questions to Ask When Starting a New Form of Birth Control

Why staying honest and realistic with yourself and your healthcare provider are key to using any form of birth control.

Questions to Ask When Starting a New Form of Birth Control

Being sexually active comes with a number of considerations and responsibilities, including using reliable birth control. If you’re about to get started with a form of birth control you’ve never used before, here are some key questions you can ask yourself and your healthcare provider to ensure you have the insight and information you need.

Checking in with yourself
Staying honest and realistic with yourself are key to choosing a form of birth control that will work for you. Ask yourself:

  • Does this suit my needs and lifestyle? In order to be as effective as it can be, birth control needs to be used exactly as intended. It’s important to ask yourself if you’ll be able to realistically commit to what’s required, whether that means taking a pill daily or making sure a partner wears a condom every single time you have sex.
  • Does this fit into my overall health? Like any medication, hormonal birth control comes with a risk of side effects, such as an increase in the risk of blood clots and heart disease. The risk of these side effects is higher in some people—for example, people who smoke. Discuss your health and health history with your healthcare provider.
  • Do I feel confident in this method? The right birth control—when used correctly—should give you confidence to enjoy yourself, knowing you’re taking responsible steps to prevent from getting pregnant.

Checking in with your healthcare provider
Your healthcare provider is here to answer your questions and address any concerns regarding the birth control method you’ve decided on together. Here are just some of the things you can ask about:

  • How does this form of birth control work? Different birth control methods work in different ways. It’s not only important, but also empowering, to understand how your specific form of birth control is helping to keep you from getting pregnant.
  • Are there side effects? Some birth control, particularly hormone-based types, could cause side effects such as nausea, headache, breast tenderness, and bloating. If you find that any of the side effects of your birth control are getting in the way of your quality of life and preventing you from using the birth control correctly, be sure to reach out to your healthcare provider.
  • What are the pros and cons? Different forms of birth control have different advantages and disadvantages—and these will vary from person to person. Make a list of the pros and cons of the different methods you are considering and/or have used in the past. This information can help you decide what you need right now.

Taking an active role in your healthcare
Remember, birth control will only be effective if it’s taken or used the way it was intended. It’s important to remain open and honest—with yourself, with your partners, and with your healthcare providers. Listening to your body—and letting your healthcare provider know about any changes or concerns—is one of the most important things you can do. Your healthcare provider should be your best source of support and information when making decisions about birth control, and other aspects of your health as well.

Medically reviewed in May 2021.

Sources:
Cleveland Clinic. "Birth Control: The Pill."
Mayo Clinic. "Birth control."
Mayo Clinic. "Depo-Provera (contraceptive injection)."
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. "Combined Hormonal Birth Control: Pill, Patch, and Ring."
Mayo Clinic. "Combination birth control pills."
Beth Israel Lahey Health Winchester Hospital. "Oral Contraceptives: Risks and Benefits."
Office on Women's Health. "Birth Control Methods."
Planned Parenthood. "Birth Control Ring."
Planned Parenthood. "IUD."
Mayo Clinic. "Combination birth control pills."
Center for Young Women's Health. "Birth Control Pills: All Guides."
Planned Parenthood. "What are the disadvantages of the birth control shot?"

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