Think about life today. Compare it to 5, 10, 15 years ago and certainly your childhood. Life is not the same. We live in a technology-driven world that is progressing, at the speed of light! It is challenging and changing the way we live, learn and even how we communicate, process and trust information. Technology is changing the way we practice Medicine and certainly the communication between Doctor and Patient. The Internet is an endless abyss of information, from fact to fiction and certainly to opinions born out of first-hand experience or plain ignorance.
It is often that I ask Patients, “Have you consulted Dr. Google?” This is not a patronizing gesture, but it is sincere and gives me a point of reference. I need to know what she understands and believes about her particular health condition or treatment options. My role as a Physician is to assure that you are fully informed with the necessary knowledge and understanding to make the best decision about your health. Have you ever jumped on the Internet, right after seeing your Doctor, to investigate what you were told? Would you agree this experience provoked more fear than comfort? With the Internet, information is just a click away; however this convenience can be somewhat of a double-edged sword. On one side, we are empowered and enlightened by the knowledge we gain, but on the other, we must be wary that information, can be mis-information, making us but prey to that wolf lurking in sheep’s clothing. I caution you to always consider the source of your information. When it comes to your health and medical care, information should be without bias and backed by proof that is scientific, research-proven with evidence that it is safe and trusted.
Speaking of that wolf, as much as our world has changed, women’s reproductive health and our options and access to family planning have been faced with much turbulence over the years. This is a topic faced with much bias and controversy given one’s particular perspective or motive. I have met many a Patient fearful of a certain birth control based on what they read on the Internet, saw on a TV commercial or the story of a friend-of-a-friend who had a bad experience, “And so I don’t want to talk about THAT one!” The bottom line is that life is about choices and your decision to guard your reproductive health and timing of family planning rests with you and what is right for you. It is a decision best made and formulated through what works best for you and will serve you well until you are ready to realize your reproductive potential – TO PLAN TO GET PREGNANT! 49% of pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, however only 5% of those are actually on birth control! Birth control is as much about knowledge as it is access to obtaining it. With the changes coming about in our healthcare system, we hope that every woman will now have access to take control of her reproductive health and choose the family planning option best fit for her.
Birth control is no longer about pills or shots, you now have a buffet of options to try and find the one best fit for you. There are pills, patches, rings, ones with strings and even considered permanent. Each has its own efficacy, ease of use, convenience and length of use depending on when you plan to grow your family. You have the option of choosing one to stop your periods, lighten them or even have no effect at all on how you cycle! There is no one birth control that is EVER considered 100% effective, so be wary of one that boasts such claims. What you should know is that you have options and must discuss with your Women’s Health Provider the one that is right and safest for you. It is an individualized approach as one could be great for you and deadly for another. I caution you to use the Internet to explore your options, but verify before you form an opinion and certainly commit. “Trust, but verify” is an edict learned from my late Grandfather Jack and it so applies to this day and age with the deluge of information and opportunities we consider every day.
If you would like to consider your options for birth control or verify where your particular method stands, please feel free to contact your Well Women’s Provider. The have found the following websites very informative and without bias. The Association of Reproductive Professionals, Method Match, http://www.arhp.org/MethodMatch/ and Princeton University and The Association of Reproductive Professionals Emergency contraception, http://ec.princeton.edu/.