If you're hoping to get pregnant in the next year or two...

The question to ask: What can I do to prepare?

So many women wait to have "the talk" with their doctor until they're already pregnant, says Lauren Streicher, MD, Chicago-based gynecologist and an associate clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University’s medical school. But if you bring it up well ahead of time, your gynecologist can help you have a healthier, happier, more informed pregnancy. Streicher recommends making a "pre-conception" appointment to see your healthcare provider at least three months before you plan to start trying so that she can review your genetic history with you, make sure your vaccinations are up to date and talk to you about what you should be doing (eating low-mercury fish, taking prenatal vitamins) and what you shouldn't (eating high-mercury fish, smoking). Many OB-GYNs wait a couple weeks after the positive pregnancy test to examine their patients, so the pre-conception visit is also a good time to ask any questions you might have about those first, often surreal weeks.

If you're one of the 62 percent of women currently using contraception (of any kind)...

The question to ask: Is this the best option for me right now?

We tend to fall into a birth control rut...and so do our doctors. For example, many doctors prescribe the same brand of pills over and over again, says Michael Thomas, MD, a contraceptive researcher at the University of Cincinnati Medical School. Even if you like what you've got, that doesn't mean there isn't something that could work better for you—like an IUD or a loser-dose version of your pill.

If you asked the question above...

The follow-up should be: What haven’t I heard—that I really need to know?

Many patients report that their doctors breezed over risks for contraceptives like the ring (which is why they're extra-freaked-out when they read about them in the media). And most women don't realize that the effectiveness of their birth control as well as the risks for complications (like blood clots) are affected by their weight, says Thomas—and doctors of any type are hesitant to bring up weight issues without prompting. Even if you decide to stick with the same method you've had for years, your risk profile may have changed due to your age or changes in your health (or the health of your family members).

Next: If you want to make sure you don't have any STIs


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