6 Questions Malaysian Women Should Ask Their Pharmacist About Birth Control
Make the Best Use of Your Pharmacy Visit
This can be an uncomfortable appointment for many women because it involves talking about intimate, private details. However, overcoming your shyness and speaking openly about your reproductive health will only benefit you. So, find a pharmacist you trust with great communication skills.
Prepare questions you’d like to ask your pharmacist, so that you have a realistic idea of what your medication can do for you. Anything you say is kept strictly confidential. Here are a few important questions that you can consider:
1. Which type of birth control is right for me?
Contraception prevents unwanted pregnancy, hormonal imbalance, and relieves heavy and painful periods. There are plenty of birth control options you can choose from at the pharmacy in Malaysia today; patches, pills, sponges, vaginal rings, and condoms. But the right one for you depends on different things.
For instance, your age and lifestyle — some contraceptives may not be effective if you’re over 35 and if you smoke. Whether you use contraception correctly every time and how often you are sexually active matter too. Some contraceptives may cause weight gain. By discussing your current needs and health status with your pharmacist, you’ll be able to choose the method that suits you best.
2. What kind of contraception can I get in pill form?
There are two types of contraception pills that you can purchase without a prescription.1 Depending on the brand and dosage, you may get a pill packet that contains only 21 active hormone pills or a packet with 21 active hormone pills and 7 days placebo pills. There are other newer packs, 24 active pills and 4 placebo pills.2
Pills containing a single hormone known as progestin-only pills are intended for women who cannot take estrogen, while pills containing both hormones known as combination pills are ideal for women who seek benefits beyond contraception. Your pharmacist can advise you on which of these is right for you.3
3. How are oral contraceptives taken?
According to Planned Parenthood, you’re protected from becoming pregnant if you take the combined pill every day.4 Most women start the pill at any time during their menstrual cycle, unless they just gave birth, had abortions or miscarriages.5
Depending on when you start taking it within your menstrual cycle, your pharmacist may recommend that you use a backup form of contraception, such as a condom, during your first days on the pill.6 It is imperative to follow your pharmacist’s instructions. You should always ask your pharmacist for advice on when and how you should take the pill.
4. What if I missed a dose?
Taking dummy pills doesn’t increase your chances of unwanted pregnancy if you’re taking the pill exactly as directed. The combined pill is one of the most reliable methods of contraception.7 However, if you miss a pill or several pills during a cycle, you may be risking unwanted pregnancy during that cycle.
Accidentally missing a dose is common for pill takers, and every brand of oral contraceptive contains a patient information packet, which includes instructions to follow if you missed a dose. Should you miss several pills during a cycle, try using a condom as an added precaution. Your pharmacist will be able to guide you if you’re unsure.
5. What side effects are associated with the use of oral contraceptives?
Some women take the pill to reduce acne, premenstrual symptoms, and heavy periods.8 It is necessary that you understand how to take oral contraceptives correctly and its potential risks and side effects. Most women who take the combined pill do not experience many side effects, as hormonal side effects are mostly mild-to-moderate.
Common side effects include temporary headaches, spotting, nausea, or breast tenderness.9 If side effects persist, talk to your pharmacist about switching to a different pill that would work better for you.
6. Could any health problems make oral contraceptives unsafe for me?
With more than 99% effectiveness to prevent pregnancy, the combined pill is safe for almost all women.10 Nevertheless, certain types of medication can make oral contraceptives less effective.
Before starting the pill, tell your pharmacist if you have any allergies or preexisting health conditions and if you are currently taking other medications, including over-the-counter or nonprescription medications, vitamins, and herbal medications. If you’re concerned that taking the pill could be risky and interfere with your medical problems, talk to your pharmacist.
Ask Your Pharmacist
Advice on contraception is available for free from your local pharmacy. Prepare your questions in advance whether you’re looking for a new prescription or a refill so you’ll find a birth control pill that works for you.