Women Receive Insufficient Reproductive Health Information
When it comes to knowledge and understanding of using a continuous Pill regimen to skip or eliminate the menstrual period it looks like women and their doctors are talking past each other.
From a survey of 500 women and 300 physicians:
- 63% of women reported being “somewhat” or “extremely” interested in not having a period, but only 17% of MDs reported that their patients indicated they did not want a period.
- Only 20% of women reported they “strongly agree” or “somewhat agree” that having their period is not medically necessary, while 97% of MDs reported that continuous OC use is medically acceptable.
- Few women (12%) reported talking to their MD about eliminating or reducing their periods; of these, 71% reported that they raised the topic. However, 80% of MDs reported mentioning continuous OC use when discussing contraceptive options; when continuous OC use was discussed, 77% of MDs reported that they raised the topic.
The study concludes that women and their MDs have different understandings of the medical implications of menses inhibition, and women may be receiving insufficient information. Gee, you think?
I'm not exactly sure why we're having this problem. I do think it has a lot to do with 1) the short duration of a well care visit and the inability to spend enough time on patient education, and 2) the assumption that this information is so basic that patients already know about it. [I must admit this is an easy trap to fall into occasionally. Just the other day I assumed a woman knew what lochia was just because she was a multip. Very bad form on my part.]
Spending more time with the patient would be ideal, but, unless we figure out how to be in two places at the same time, I don't think that's a feasible solution. So the best way to go about it is to insure that women receive, and are familiar with, most of the background information before they come in.
If you already know the basics about the menstrual cycle, the Pill's mechanism of action, and the Pill brands and regimens used to skip the period, you can use the office visit to fine tune, to tailor your options to best suit your particular needs.
Now all that remains to be done is to find a way to insure all women are up-to-date on the basics of reproductive health.