Caring for patients that have access to healthcare facilities throughout the world provides a striking contrast between the predominant model of care in the United States and other parts of the world. Whether it is the process of informed consent for surgery or prescribing a medication, the training of your doctor is vital towards achieving the highest level of care. This training must then be conveyed in a manner to the patient in terms that are thorough, precise and understandable.
Many times patients have arrived at my office with medications that have not been authenticated as to their contents or without assurance as to their safety. The patient may possess a very limited appreciation of the medications interactions with her other medicines or effects on her current medical conditions.
Birth control which is a both highly visible and pervassive in the United States has created a sense of familiarity & comprehension for many. In many cases this is a false assurance.
However with a tidal wave of advertising of these products a frequent question arises. This inevitable question is to whether all birth control should be made available as an over the counter medication as it is in certain parts of the world.
While the ease of accesibility and lower potential cost are arguments for such a policy, I am reminded of the Latin phrase, caveat emptor, or "buyer beware".
I base my opinion on almost two decades of providing women's healthcare and have reached the conclusion that while something would be gained with this policy, unfortunately much more would be lost.
The greatest loss is the education & selection process that I engage in with patients when determining which medication best fits their needs. With more misinformation contained on the internet, I see my role as not only to enlighten patients about their choices but also to dispell misconceptions or myths.
The intricacies of the various contaceptive options which then evolves into evaluating their composition and concentrations is beyond the scope of this blog so I would suggest that if your considering starting a new contraceptive method or just want to gain a better understanding of the pros & cons of your current choice then a meeting with your OBGYN could prove to be a beneficial moment in gaining a better perspective on your health.