Purpose of review: Quality contraceptive counseling has been identified as a potential means to reduce unintended pregnancy and to increase contraceptive continuation and satisfaction. Past approaches that focused on autonomous decision making and directive counseling have not been shown to meet these goals consistently. Women's health organizations globally are calling for improved counseling through more thorough discussion of side-effects and bleeding changes, and renewed focus on shared decision making and patient-centered care.
Recent findings: Reproductive life planning can help initiate contraceptive counseling but does not resonate with all patients. A client-centered approach using shared decision making, building trust, and eliciting client preferences has been shown to increase satisfaction and continuation. Patient preferences vary widely and may or may not prioritize extremely high effectiveness. Decision support tools have mixed results, but generally can help improve the method choice process when they are well designed.
Summary: Clinicians should strive for good interpersonal relationships with patients, and elicit patient experiences and preferences to tailor their counseling to each individual's needs. Shared decision making with input from both the patient and clinician is preferred by many women, and clinicians should be cognizant of perceptions of pushing any method too strongly, especially among marginalized populations. More research on long-term satisfaction and continuation linked to different counseling practices is needed.