TOP 5 QUESTIONS YOU NEED TO ASK YOUR GYNECOLOGIST ABOUT FAMILY PLANNING
Posted on: July 10, 2022
Family planning is a way for couples to have the number of children they want and when they want to have them.
Usually, families are advised to have children 3 to 5 years apart from each other. This is because proper birth spacing helps to keep both mother and child healthy and also improves the family’s quality of life.
Planning this birth spacing is easy with effective contraception methods. And talking to your gynecologist is the first step in finding out which contraceptive option for family planning is available to you.
To get started, list out these questions that you need to ask during your next gynecologist visit. Making a list will guide you in your discussion about your contraceptive options and decide which one is best for you.
1. What are the available Contraceptive Options for women?
A variety of contraceptive options are available to couples who want to start family planning. Don’t let the long list scare you! There are options for every age group, lifestyle, and health history. For example, ask your gynecologist about your options if you’re 35 years old or older. They may suggest contraceptive options that will not raise your risk of cancer, stroke, or heart diseases.
This is because these health risks are sometimes associated with women who take birth control pills at an older age. 1 Your gynecologist may help you look into contraceptive injections 2 or contraceptive implants 3 instead.
Apart from that, inform your gynecologist if you’re breastfeeding and decide to start family planning early. As some contraceptive options affect a mother’s milk supply, some women are conflicted about family planning so close to their child’s birth.
In this case, talk to your gynecologist about birth control pills or an intrauterine system (IUS) with only the progestin hormone. 4 These options do not curb breastfeeding and are available within 6 weeks after childbirth.
2. What are the differences between my contraceptive options?
Do you still need more help with narrowing down your choices? Consult your gynecologist about the differences between the options you have shortlisted.
For example, if your contraceptive decision is between the Intrauterine Device (IUD) and Intrauterine System (IUS), ask how either will affect your body.
This is important because the IUD works by releasing copper ions that prevents sperm from surviving in the uterus. 5 On the other hand, the IUS releases the progesterone hormone to make the cervical mucus thicker and makes it difficult for sperm to reach the egg.
Both options are 99% effective and work for up to ten years, but the IUS is a hormonal contraceptive. This means that it can affect your periods by making them irregular or even non-existent. 6 You will need to ask yourself, is this something that you look forward to or would rather avoid.
3. When should I start taking contraceptives for family planning?
Your choice of contraceptive options should also fit your overall family planning schedule. As mentioned earlier, you may be taking contraceptives when you’re breastfeeding, immediately after childbirth, or further down the line.
Mothers who will be using infant formula may start using options like contraceptive injection immediately after their child’s birth. Alternatively, they may start taking birth control pills three weeks after delivery, or have an IUD fitted six to eight weeks after the delivery.
On the other hand, if you’re considering contraceptive options later on and outside of the influence of childbirth and breastfeeding, take a look at your menstrual calendar.
If you’re considering contraceptive injection, you will be advised to get it within seven days of the start of your period to ensure you're not pregnant. 8 For those planning to get an IUD, schedule your visit any time during your period to make its insertion easier.
Birth control pills are the easiest to get started on as you can choose from several methods. Take it on the first day of your period so that you’re protected from pregnancy right away. Or start on the first Sunday after your period starts, as many pill packs are designed to start on this day (but remember to use a back-up contraceptive option for the next seven days!). If you don’t want to wait for your period, start with the first pill in the pack. And then pair this with back-up contraceptives, like condoms, if you’re planning to have sex within the next seven days.
4. What are their side effects?
Lastly, remember to ask your gynecologist about side effects before finally deciding on a preferred contraceptive option.
Some hormonal contraceptives like birth control pills and contraceptive implants should be avoided by individuals with higher health risks. These include a history of blood clots in the legs or lungs, heart diseases, high blood pressure, and severe migraines.
Similarly, if you’re prone to regular bladder infection or genital irritation, you should steer clear of the diaphragm and cervical cap. There is a chance of developing either conditions because these contraceptives are used with spermicides. This substance kills off the protective bacteria in the vagina.
5. What are the available contraceptive options for men?
Couples may look into contraceptive options for men too. The use of contraceptives in both partners is the most effective, foolproof protection you can get from unplanned pregnancies.
And the options for men include the male condom and vasectomy. Your choice may depend on which stage of family planning you’re in.
Your non-permanent option is the male condom, which has an 82% effectiveness rate in preventing pregnancies when used correctly. It also protects you from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). However, its disadvantages include splitting or tearing if not used properly, latex allergies, and disruption to spontaneity during sex.
Your alternative is a small operation to cut or seal the tubes that carry your sperm. Vasectomy is 99% effective and only affects your fertility while preserving your libido and ability to have sex. You will still have erections and ejaculate, but your semen won't contain sperm.
If you plan to have more children in the future, the male condom is your go-to option. However, if you and your partner have agreed that you’ve reached your ideal family size, vasectomy is a reliable contraceptive alternative.
Ask Your Gynecologist
Your gynecologist is a great source of information on your reproductive health and family planning options. Prepare your list of questions in advance to make it easier to find a contraceptive method that works for you and your partner. Browse through our blog to equip yourself with additional information you may need.