Dialogue on Family Planning in the Philippines with Doctor Carasus

Last month, we partnered up with “It’s OK to Delay”, an online campaign of the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) ReachHealth project. This campaign aims to inform and motivate young adults in the Philippines about family planning and contraception. With its warm, friendly, and engaging tone, “It’s Okay to Delay”  makes information on sexual and reproductive health accessible across the country.

In a collaborative effort between “It’s Okay to Delay” and Ease Healthcare Philippines, we hosted  Girls Helping Girls, a virtual live event where audience members could ask their burning questions on family planning methods. 

We invited Dr. Kristin Carasus, an Ease Healthcare physician, to share her expertise and address these questions.

In case you missed it, here are five key takeaways to note from the event.

What are the various family planning methods available?

Dr. Carasus: There are several types of family planning methods, but the main four I will be focusing on are condoms, birth control pills, implants, and IUDs. Condoms are the most common and accessible since they can be obtained at pharmacies and drugstores. Condoms work as a barrier method, meaning they act as a physical barrier to prevent sperm from entering the vagina. Condoms are one of the most important methods of family planning, as they also protect against sexually transmitted diseases, on top of preventing pregnancy.

Birth control pills are also a popular method of family planning. Unlike condoms, birth control pills are hormonal contraceptive. They work by preventing ovulation and thinning the uterine lining to reduce the chance of pregnancy.

The birth control implant, on the other hand, is inserted under the skin of the upper arm. The implant releases a steady dose of hormones throughout the body, thus preventing pregnancy.

Lastly, the IUD––or intrauterine device––is inserted inside the uterus. IUDs can either be hormonal or non-hormonal. 

I am planning on starting birth control pills. How do I know which one is right for me?

Dr. Carasus: This is a question we get very frequently during teleconsultations. The best thing to do is to discuss your options with your healthcare provider, who will take into account your medical history and lifestyle in order to find the best type of pill for you. There are many types of birth control pills that can help you address certain issues, and your healthcare provider will be able to help you find the best solution.

Is it safe to take vitamin supplements or over-the-counter medications while on birth control? What about vaccinations?

Dr. Carasus: This is also a question I get pretty often, especially since the onset of COVID-19. To answer your question, most over-the-counter (OTC) medications (such as paracetamol) and vitamins are safe to take and will not interfere with the effectiveness of your birth control. However, there are certain herbal supplements that can interact with birth control. When getting prescribed birth control, it is a good idea to double-check with your doctor if the OTC medications and supplements you are taking are okay. Additionally, you should let your doctor know any prescription medicines you are on. As for the vaccine, yes, please get vaccinated! Common vaccines such as the COVID-19 or seasonal influenza vaccine will not interfere with your birth control. It is safe and good practice for you and the people around you to be vaccinated.  

Can I change the brand or formulation of birth control pill I am taking?

Dr. Carasus: Yes, you can! If you are experiencing any side effects after starting the pill, take note of these and bring them up to your doctor if you have any concerns. No two people will react to the pill in the same way, and sometimes, changing formulations can help alleviate your symptoms. However, you should note that these side effects often subside a couple of months after starting the pill. My recommendation is to wait up to three months on your current pill to see if your body adjusts to the hormones. Otherwise, you can always bring up a formulation change to your provider.

Is it normal to experience changes in menstruation after starting hormonal contraception?

Dr. Carasus: Yes. Starting a birth control method such as the pill will likely make your periods more predictable and more manageable. In fact, many people choose to start the pill to regulate their cycle. You should note that your period on birth control is not a menstrual period; rather, it is called a withdrawal bleed, which occurs due to the drop in hormones during the hormone-free week in a pack. In any case, it is completely normal to experience a change in your period while on hormonal birth control.

You might also experience something called breakthrough bleeding, especially if you are new to your current birth control method. Breakthrough bleeding refers to spotting that occurs outside of your hormone-free week. They can be quite inconvenient to deal with, but rest assured that most cases of breakthrough bleeding will subside after your body adjusts to your birth control. 

 Conclusion

We hope this information has been helpful. We are grateful for Dr. Carasus’s time to share her expertise! If you have any further questions or want to learn more about family planning and contraception, head over to our website to book a teleconsultation with one of our doctors. For more ease and convenience, you can download our mobile app to access our all-in-one platform and have your healthcare needs met all from the comfort of your home. You can also visit It’s OK to Delay’s Facebook page to know more about family planning and contraception. 

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