Contraceptive Choices Consultation

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It is important to talk to a sexual health clinician or GP about which contraceptives are right for you. This page has some information to help you feel confident and be prepared when you visit a reproductive and sexual health clinic or your local GP.

What happens before a contraceptive choices consultation?

You can phone or go into the clinic to make an appointment without having to explain to the receptionist why you are going there.

You might want to ask for a long appointment so that you don’t feel rushed and can take the time to ask questions. If it is a bulk-billed clinic or a community health clinic, the long appointment won’t cost any extra and the appointment will be free of charge. You can ask the receptionist about the possible cost of the appointment when you make a booking.

When you arrive at the clinic, you just need to provide your name, show them your Medicare card, and tell them your appointment time. You don’t need to explain what the appointment is for. If you don’t have a Medicare card, they can still help you attend the appointment, but there may be a charge for the appointment.

What happens in a contraceptive choices consultation?

Appointments are usually 10-20 minutes long. The clinician will ask some questions so they can advise on the best method for you.

Some of the questions may include information about:

  • your medical history
    • general health concerns, allergies, family history, heart health, cancer risks and blood clots
  • previous experience using contraception
    • what you have used before, what you liked or didn’t like about it
  • reproductive health
    • they will want to know if you have periods or uterine bleeding, what your periods or bleeding are like, and if you have had any experiences of unusual bleeding
  • lifestyle
    • they will ask if you smoke, drink alcohol, or take drugs (prescription and non-prescription)
  • sexual health
    • information about sexual partners, if you have any pelvic pain or discharge, and if you have been screened for possible infections (STIs)
  • what you already know about contraceptive choices
    • do you have any preferences, what do you think you can use properly, what do you think will suit your lifestyle

It is okay if you don’t know the answer to all the questions, but the more information you can give, the more likely the clinician will be able to match you with the best contraception method for you.

You may like to bring along a factsheet from this website with the choices you feel might suit you best.

After the appointment, you may be given information to take home to think about your choices some more, or you may make a decision during the appointment. The choice you make will depend on how and when you get the contraceptive option. For some methods, you will need to attend the clinic for another appointment.

Asking questions

It is important that you find a clinician who you trust and feel comfortable with so that you can ask questions. Clinicians have talked to many people who have had similar experiences to you. No question is a silly question.

Bringing someone along

You can attend an appointment by yourself or you can bring someone else along with you. The clinician might want to talk to you on your own for some of the appointment to make sure your decision about contraception is your own decision.

It can sometimes be useful to bring a trusted family member along to help provide additional family medical history.

Returning

Sometimes you might be unhappy with your choice. You might experience unexpected side effects or you might change your mind. That is normal. You can go back to the clinician at any time.

You can find a sexual health clinic here.

Sexual Health Check-up

You can also visit your GP or sexual health clinic for a sexual health check-up. You might do this at the same time as your contraceptive choices consultation or on another day.

What happens before a sexual health check-up?

You can phone or go into the clinic to make an appointment without having to explain to the receptionist why you are going there.

You might want to ask for a long appointment so that you don’t feel rushed and can take the time to ask questions. If it is a bulk-billed clinic or a community health clinic, the long appointment won’t cost any extra and the appointment will be free of charge. You can ask the receptionist about the possible cost of the appointment when you make a booking.

When you arrive at the clinic, you just need to provide your name, show them your Medicare card, and tell them your appointment time. You don’t need to explain what the appointment is for. If you don’t have a Medicare card, they can still help you attend the appointment, but there may be a charge for the appointment.

What happens in a sexual health check-up?

Appointments are often 10-20 minutes long. The clinician will ask you questions to decide whether you are at risk of having a sexually transmissible infection (STI) or blood borne virus (BBV).

They may ask very specific questions, which include information about:

  • reproductive health
    • they will want to know if you have periods or uterine bleeding, what your periods or bleeding are like, and if you have had any experiences of unusual bleeding
  • sexual health
    • information about current and past sexual relationships including sex of partner, how long and frequently you were sexually active with them, types of sexual activity you shared, any symptoms you’ve noticed, or any pain or discharge you might be experiencing

The clinician might do a pelvic examination, examination of the genitals or a cervical screen (internal examination). They might also recommend getting a blood or urine test done. Sometimes the blood and urine tests are done at a different location.

If you give the clinician your phone number or email address as a contact for your results, make sure that it is a phone number or email address that you will definitely get the message from. You can also phone the clinic at any time to find out your results if you think you may have missed the message.

Are there other ways to get screening for STIs? I heard that you can order them online.

Sometimes online STI checkups are available. This means that you order the tests online and either:

  • print out a form from your phone or computer, and take it with you to a pathology clinic where you will receive a blood and urine test, or
  • receive a jar in the mail that you put some urine (pee) into and send back in the post

These tests are easy to organise, and a great idea if you are having trouble getting to a clinic.

If your results show that you have an STI, you will still need to go to a clinic to receive treatment.

You can find a sexual health clinic here.