Madelaine Petsch Wants to Help You Feel Confident Asking Questions About Your Birth Control

The Riverdale star teamed up with birth control brand, Lo Loestrin Fe to help empower people to research their birth control options and initiate conversations about contraception with their doctor.

Madelaine Petsch arrives at the Boss fashion show on February 23, 2020 in Milan, Italy
Photo: Stefania D'Alessandro/Getty Images

With the abundance of available birth control methods out there, the number of choices alone can often seem overwhelming. Hormonal birth control options can be particularly tricky to wade through as you figure out which type might be best for your individual situation.

To help empower people to research their options and feel comfortable initiating conversations with their doctor about contraception, Riverdale star Madelaine Petsch has partnered with AbbVie and Lo Loestrin Fe, a low-dose birth control pill, for its "Are You In The Lo?" campaign.

Featuring anecdotal stories from people sharing their reasons for using birth control (from family planning to career development), the campaign aims to not only normalize these conversations but also illustrate the value in taking ownership of your health.

"There are many reasons a woman may have for preventing pregnancy, and it might not always be easy to talk about," Petsch says in a video for the campaign. "But communication is key in order to make an informed decision when searching for a birth control option. I want to encourage you to do that research and have that conversation with your healthcare provider because knowledge is power." (Here's how to find the best birth control for you.)

Not really sure how to start that conversation? Lakeisha Richardson, M.D., an ob-gyn in Greenville, Mississippi and consultant for AbbVie, shares a few basic questions to run by your doctor when choosing a birth control method:

  • Do I have any risk factors that increase my risk of complications if I use birth control?
  • What side effects should I expect with different types of birth control? And what should I do if I do experience side effects?
  • Will certain types of birth control interfere with any of my current medications or medical illnesses?
  • How soon can I start a new birth control method?
  • If I'm taking a birth control pill, do I have to take it at the same time every day?
  • Is there anything I should or should not do while using birth control?

When it comes to hormonal birth control, specifically, the dose of hormones is an important topic to cover with your doctor as well. Hormone dose depends, in part, on the purpose of your birth control, says Rachel High, D.O., an ob-gyn in Austin, Texas. Some people use hormonal birth control for pregnancy prevention; others use it to help regulate their period and premenstrual symptoms; some use it to help treat pelvic pain, acne, and even migraines. Talking about your specific intentions for using birth control can help you and your doctor narrow down the right hormone dose for you, explains Dr. High.

"Lower daily doses of estradiol [a form of estrogen], for example, might be appropriate for someone who is only using pills for contraception; however, low doses may not be adequate to help with menstrual or pain problems," says Dr. High. "Outlining your health concerns can help you and your ob-gyn come to a shared decision on which dose is best to address your concerns, as it's possible you have multiple gynecologic issues other than seeking contraception." (

"Estrogen levels affect people's bodies differently, so people should work through the option that is appropriate for them with their healthcare providers," adds Dr. Richardson. "If you've already tried a higher-dose estrogen pill previously (and you weren't happy with it), a low-estrogen option such as Lo Loestrin Fe may be one option to try next if you are an appropriate candidate." (Just make sure you and your doctor are aware of your birth control's side effects before starting a new method.)

Of course, these conversations are likely to get way more personal than hormone dose, branching into topics such as family health history and sexual (not just reproductive) health as you figure out what birth control method makes the most sense for you. If the nitty-gritty details of these conversations make you feel awkward at times, Petsch can relate.

"When I was younger, I was ashamed of [talking about my sexual and reproductive health]," the 25-year-old actor tells Shape. "I was embarrassed to talk to people about it. I used to feel so awkward going to the ob-gyn. I used to feel like it was this really weird and embarrassing thing, but it's not embarrassing to have a vagina. It's a very wonderful and beautiful thing to feel that way."

Petsch credits her parents for raising her in a household "where no conversation was off the table," she shares. "My mom encouraged me to have these conversations, and she provided me with so much knowledge and research on reproductive health and birth control options. But I don't think that's super common; that's why I think it's so important to start these conversations."

Now, Petsch hopes that by using her platform to amplify the "Are You In The Lo?" campaign, she can encourage more people to take an active, educated role in their reproductive health decisions.

"When I was younger and I was looking into [birth control options], if I had seen somebody that I looked up to talking about it, it would have sparked an interest in me to do some research," says Petsch. "The more open the conversation is, the more educated people can be, and the more they can take control of it."

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles