When picking your perfect birth control, there are tons of things to considerÃ¢â‚¬”like how it works, how effective it is, and if it helps protect you against STDs. But according to new research, you and your doctor may have totally different opinions on whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s most important in a birth control method. While patients are most concerned with how birth control works to prevent pregnancy, providers are most interested in how the method is used, according to a new study in the journal Contraception.
Researchers surveyed 417 women and 188 healthcare providers to find out how they ranked the importance of 34 questions related to birth control options. They wanted to see what importance doctors and patients placed on certain questions, like Ã¢â‚¬Å“Is it safe?Ã¢â‚¬Â and Ã¢â‚¬Å“Does it hurt to get or use?Ã¢â‚¬Â
Interestingly, the question ranked most important by women was Ã¢â‚¬Å“How does it work to prevent pregnancy?Ã¢â‚¬Â while providers found the most important questions to be Ã¢â‚¬Å“How is it used?Ã¢â‚¬Â and Ã¢â‚¬Å“How often [does the patient] need to remember to use it?Ã¢â‚¬Â (they were tied for the top spot).
While itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s nice to see that women are interested in the mechanism behind their birth control, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a little surprising, says ob-gyn Alyssa Dweck, M.D., coauthor of V is for Vagina. She finds that, anecdotally, her patients most often ask about side effects and effectiveness. That said, it also makes sense that women would want to know exactly how something works before it goes into their bodies.
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But what isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t surprising is that providers are most concerned with how a method is used and how often you need to remember it. "They want it to work," says Dweck. "To minimize mistakes, increase effectiveness, and increase compliance." Because it doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t matter how effective the Pill is if you can't remember to take it correctly or you don't like using it. That might be why the birth control method of choice among healthcare providers is the IUD. "It's harder to make a mistake with something that's long-acting," says Dweck.
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So should this question top your list of concerns, too? Absolutely. If you find a birth control method that you can remember to take and you don't mind using, your chances of having a slip-up are much lower. That said, it's also crucial that your ob-gyn addresses the questions that are most important to you, whether or not she thinks they're major concerns. So if your doctor isn't answering all your "what ifs," it might be time to find a physician who will. Here are five ways to make sure your doctor is really listening to you.