Switching contraceptives can become a life-altering decision for lots of reasons. Aside from preventing pregnancy, the right one can soothe the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Some make bleeding less heavy, allowing women to enjoy a more comfortable period. Before you head to a medical clinic to request a change, it's worth preparing yourself with the information your general practitioner (GP) may want.
Although each contraceptive on the market is safe, it only remains safe when GPs prescribe them within certain parameters. For example, women who are over 35 and smoking should not take certain oral contraceptives. That's because they may elevate your risk of developing a clot, as do smoking and being over 35. Alone, each factor doesn't cause a very high risk. Combined, they elevate your clot risk enough for your GP to want to try an alternative method. Because of this, always go in with an honest answer when they ask about your smoking status.
Family medical history
Although it may seem bizarre that your GP will want to know about your first-degree relatives when you change contraceptives, it can influence the ones they suggest. Again, using certain hormonal contraceptive pills as an example, if a first-degree female relative has had deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in the past, this will likely exclude you from using them. Many will also ask about your family's cardiovascular history. Remaining honest with these answers doesn't mean you'll exclude yourself from certain types altogether. However, your GP might choose to give you a variation of a contraceptive type that's more suitable to your medical background.
Your pregnancy plans
First of all, it's okay to go into your GP's medical clinic without knowing what your pregnancy plans are. Some may ask, however, as it can influence the type of contraceptives they suggest. One example is the use of certain long-acting contraceptives when you and your partner are sure you'll want to conceive in the near future, but you're not sure when. While some will allow you to return to your normal cycle within a month of removing it, others can take a few months for you to become fertile again. On the reverse, if pregnancy avoidance is an absolute must but you don't want to consider sterilisation, your GP may explain why certain methods aren't the best option.
Overall, you and your GP will work together to create a plan that best suits your needs. While they're there to make suggestions, it's you who makes the choice.
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