There’s nothing like planning a wedding to get you overthinking just about everything, from the superficial (Do you need balayage?) to the more significant (Get creative with your vows, or keep ‘em simple?) to the downright stressful (Can your future mother-in-law be trusted to choose her own gown?). Even your long-preferred birth-control method might suddenly come into question—as it should. There are several ways that your choice of contraception could come into play between now and your honeymoon. Stop and think these through before you get one step closer to "I Do." (All those other nagging questions can wait!)
1. Avoid Accidentally Getting Pregnant
For starters, if you aren’t already in a committed relationship with a birth control method, now’s the time to get serious. Assuming you’re not trying to conceive a baby before the wedding, you don’t want to risk doing so accidentally—and possibly end up experiencing nausea, fatigue and other common pregnancy symptoms while you’re also in overdrive planning an important event. Not to mention the added challenges of dress shopping with a rapidly changing body. Here’s a quick overview of the pros and cons of different birth-control methods, in case you could use a crash course—or a refresher.
2. Give Yourself Time To Plan Around Your Period
If you use an app like Clue, you may have already noticed a dreaded red blotch on your wedding day. If you don't and your period is regular, you can look ahead on the calendar and estimate whether your period is going to be an unwelcome wedding guest. “Most women do not want to bleed while they’re in a beautiful white wedding gown,” says Alyssa Dweck, M.D., a gynecologist in Westchester County, N.Y., and author of The Complete A to Z for Your V. If you’re on monthly hormonal birth control, talk to your doctor about finagling your schedule to skip a period. “Usually we can avoid a period, especially if you bring this up a few months in advance so we have time to prepare—although I always tell patients there’s a small risk that you’ll experience breakthrough bleeding,” Dweck says.
3. Adjust to a New Birth Control Method Before the Wedding
If you’re even considering switching birth-control methods between now and your wedding, it’s best to address that question STAT. “You always run the risk of experiencing side effects when you start a new birth control method, so I usually tell patients to allow at least three months to see how they’ll respond,” says Allison Boester, M.D., an OBGYN at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City. It’s common to get some initial breakthrough bleeding, bloating or breast soreness when you switch things up, and any hormonal method—including the shot or an IUD—has the potential to prompt a few pounds of weight gain or new breakouts, although this varies from person to person. Of course, you could also experience positive side effects birth control—for example, some pills are FDA-approved for treating acne (a major perk if you’ve been having any bacne-related wedding dress dilemmas). The key is to begin a new method early enough that you know how your skin—and body—will adjust. “The longer you’re on a birth control method, the less bothersome the side effects tend to get,” Boester notes. “Many women end up experiencing more positives than negatives.”
4. Be Ready to Conceive (When You're Ready)
While being on hormonal birth control does not affect your fertility long-term, it’s possible your cycle will need a couple months to regulate—worth noting if you’re counting the days until you and your soon-to-be husband can try to conceive. “Every so often, women will have what we call post-pill amenorrhea, which means your period is delayed,” Dweck says. “This usually self-corrects within a couple months, but some people go off the pill early so that if this happens, it’ll be resolved by the time they want to get pregnant.” One other reason you might consider going off birth control early: your periods are irregular. “For women who are having erratic cycles and want to make sure they can get pregnant soon after their wedding, stopping birth control early lets us do a workup—an ultrasound, hormone testing and an exam—to make sure there’s no area of concern,” Dweck says. Just be aware: It’s also possible to get pregnant the moment you remove an IUD or go off monthly hormonal birth control, so be sure to use a condom.
5. Switch to a Better Option for Your Busy Schedule
This is no time to be forgetting to bring condoms or accidentally skipping pills. “If you’re under stress and are off in administration of the pill, even just taking it at a different time each day, breakthrough bleeding can increase—and if you miss more than one pill, there’s a higher chance of pregnancy,” says Dweck. She tells women who’ll be traveling during a honeymoon to set a take-your-pill alarm based on their home time zone (so if you’re in Fiji, you may have to wake in the middle of the night). “Once you get to the next pack, it’s OK to alter the time to accommodate for where you are,” she says. If you know you can’t handle staying this on top of this—on top of everything else—maybe it’s time to switch to a birth-control method that doesn’t demand your attention at the same time each day.