Best Questions

The best question is one of the following:

“Do you have a sense of what is important to you about your birth control method?” 


 "Do you have a sense of what you are looking for in a birth control method?” 

Once the patient replies, it is helpful to ask further probing questions about what they have said, and about the various attributes listed here:

  • effectiveness,

  • length of use,

  • impact on sexual life,
  • control over removal (for IUD and Implant),

  • return to fertility,

  • ability to conceal,

  • frequency of use,

  • effect on the menstrual cycle/bleeding profile,

  • side effects,

  • non-contraceptive benefits,

  • complications,

  • preferences regarding use of hormones,



Once you begin to get a sense of what their priorities are for method characteristics, you can offer options based on their stated preferences.

Refer to the information sandwich or think in terms of the following: ask, tell, ask.

Whenever you give a piece of information, follow it with one of these sorts of questions:

  • "How would that be for you?"

  • "Knowing that, what do you think?"

  • "How would you manage that?"

  • "How have you managed it?"

  • "Has that happened to you in the past?



"Many people who use this IUD do not get their period while they are using it. How would it be for you if you didn't get your period?" 

The worst question is:

“What method are you interested in?” 

  • Asking about contraceptive preferences in this way forecloses the conversation, or in other words, closes down further discussion because it takes the conversation directly to: “I was thinking about the pill- which is what most people have heard about-" to “OK, here’s a prescription."

  • It does not create an expectation that the patient can explore their options based on method characteristics, so it  does not allow for guidance about various attributes of different methods.

  • It risks making the patient feel like they “should” have an answer.

Los Angeles, CA
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