|A woman in the northern province of Ninh Binh consults a doctor about contraceptives. — VNA/VNS Photo Duong Ngoc
HCM CITY (VNS) — It was the fourth time in one year that 34-year-old Nguyen Trang Dung of HCM City had changed her contraceptive.
Four times and four different contraceptives, all discovered through one way: friends and internet searches.
"I've tried both hormonal and non-hormonal methods, which were all introduced to me by friends," Dung said. "I just searched Google for more information and decided on my own to choose a contraceptive method."
When asked why she hadn't visited the doctor, she said: "It's a waste of time."
However, she had gone to the doctor to seek advice for contraceptive implants, sterilisation, hormonal intrauterine devices and other methods.
"With oral or non-hormonal contraceptives, however, I will not go," she said.
Buying contraceptives without consulting healthcare professionals is common among women in Viet Nam.
Nguyen Duy Hoang Minh Tam, an obstetrician from the HCM City Medicine and Pharmacy University, said patients must consult a doctor to find the optimal method for them as well as to ensure their safety before using pills.
"Very few women go to a doctor. Only about 5-10 per cent of my patients come to me for such a consultation," Tam told Viet Nam News.
Many contraceptive methods are now available on the market, including the combined pill, emergency pill, mini pill, contraceptive patch and ring, and injections.
Each method has its own benefit-risk profile.
With a doctor's guidance, women can clearly understand which risks they are facing, especially women with a chronic medical condition or disease.
The lack of professional information could lead women to choose a method not suited to her health conditions or lifestyle, doctors said.
According to information from a media dialogue event organized by Bayer, a pharmaceutical manufacturer, women and their partners have a wide range of contraceptive methods from which to choose that can be suited to their particular needs.
Patients should talk to their physician to decide on the contraceptive method that is right for them.
Contraceptive pills' undesired effects can include headaches, breast tenderness, nausea, acne and irregular and intra-cycle bleeding.
Depending on the person's health, different methods should be selected for women to maximize benefits as well as to avoid risks.
Professor Johannes Bitzer of the European Society of Contraception and Reproductive Health told Viet Nam News: "It is really important to make women more aware about what they are taking and why they are taking it."
"It would be helpful if a woman has a basic consultation about how the pill works," he said. "The doctor can also discover whether the woman has certain risk factors and should not take hormonal methods."
Risk factors as well as benefits of different pills, for example, control of acne or bleeding, can also be taken into consideration.
"The woman needs to understand why she should take a certain pill," he said.
One doctor in HCM City, who declined to be named, said that visits to physicians were important because in emergency cases, the doctors can consult patients' medical records which contain history of pill use and health diagnoses.
"It's very important that women get advice and guidance from healthcare professionals who understand the benefits of different options," said Michael Devoy, chief medical officer of Bayer HealthCare.
"Together, they can decide which method is best," he said. — VNS