You can find Part 1 of my Planned Parenthood Experience here. I was nervous when I woke up on the morning of my appointment. Bleary-eyed, I put on clothes, kissed the still sleeping Boyfriend goodbye, and headed to the car.
I entered the office and checked myself in with the front desk. After filling out some information regarding my current sexual activity, my income, and my sexual health history, I handed the clipboard in and watched Say Anything as I waited.
There was a group of three young women behind me, and they were discussing birth control options as they too were waiting to be seen. My ears perked up when one of them mentioned that she was considering getting an IUD. As readers of this blog are fully aware, I am a HUGE fan of IUDs, and I took the opportunity to share my experiences with it, and some of the awesome statistics.
After a short period of time, I was called into the back room, and had a chat with one of the attending nurses. She explained that, due to my symptoms and the length of time since my last pap smear, I was going to have a full pelvic exam and a full STI screening. She also explained that the state of California has an awesome program to help people with limited income to receive sexual health care for free, and even with my new job, I qualified.
The STI screening started right there in that tiny office with a prick of my middle finger. This particular test was to screen if I had been exposed to HIV, and amazingly, I would have the results of that test by the end of my appointment. I was blown away by this fantastic advance in HIV screening.
I went into the exam room after giving a urine sample, undressed my lower half, and waited again. When the doctor came in, she was very communicative and explained everything before she started examining me. She took three samples from my cervix, examined the positioning of my IUD (still in place!), and checked that my uterus and ovaries were not swollen. Before she moved her hands, placed the speculum, or swabbed, she was sure to tell me exactly what she was about to do. This definitely put my mind at ease, and kept me from jumping or starting when anything changed.
When she was done, she took one of the samples to their in-house lab, and checked it all out. Apparently, I had a bacterial infection that may have been the cause of the bleeding, and she handed me a prescription antibiotic. Then she told me that Planned Parenthood would call me if any of the other STI tests came back positive, but only if they were positive.
Unfortunately, I did receive one of those calls. My pap smear came back with some abnormalities. At some point in the past 10 years, I was exposed to HPV. The tiny sample that was taken was not enough to determine if I have one of the more benign forms, or if it is one of the types that can lead to cervical cancer. So, I have yet another appointment set to get some biopsies done.
I’ll have a post up on Wednesday, discussing HPV. I’ve gotten to know my STI a lot better since the diagnosis.
I have been a supporter of Planned Parenthood for a long time now. I give donations whenever I can, and I firmly believe in their mission of providing affordable reproductive health care to men and women. I often send emails to my representatives through the Planned Parenthood website when a particular piece of legislation is brought to my attention.
I went to an actual Planned Parenthood office for the first time last week.
I have been experiencing some unusual bleeding that is outside of my normal menstruation cycle. I’ve never experienced something like this before. I haven’t changed my birth control, and both Boyfriend and I have been sexually monogamous for a year and a half. That ruled out several options that could have been the reason behind the bleeding. I turned to WebMD’s symptom checker, and well, this was pretty much my experience:
Although I have a new job, I don’t have health insurance through the job yet. I had been pretty alarmed about this for a couple of days, and I knew that I needed to see a doctor. I had two options:
In San Francisco and most of the Bay Area, we have a free program for people who are uninsured. It’s called Healthy SF, and you can sign up for it at any time. It’s a sliding scale insurance that is available to anyone who lives or works in San Francisco. I ruled out Healthy SF because so many people use it that the clinics are often overrun. I figured that I would be triaged to the lowest priority, and I would probably not be seen at all for weeks.
Then there’s Planned Parenthood. I almost walked right by the office, even though I was looking for it. I walked inside, and was asked to fill out a small form explaining why I was there and disclosing my income. I had a conversation with the nurse, and I now have an appointment for Thursday this week.
I witnessed a man come in, and he was asking a lot of questions of the nurse at the window next to mine. She was giving answers as quickly as he was firing them at her. He was clearly concerned about his partner’s health, and he was trying to understand options for birth control.
This is just part of why I support Planned Parenthood. Informed and compassionate care available for everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or ability to pay.
As soon as I have a little extra income, you can bet that I’ll start donating to Planned Parenthood on a regular basis again. If you would like to help provide reproductive health care, you can donate at this link.
A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine has verified what I have known for years now. IUDs are a fantastic option for contraception.
According to the study, the US has the highest rate of unintended pregnancy among developed nations, and at least half of these unintended pregnancies are due to incorrect contraception use. As I said before, one of the best reasons to choose an IUD over other contraception options is the removal of human error from the equation. When you don’t have to remember to take a pill or put on a condom correctly, it makes the risk of an unintended pregnancy almost zero. In fact, IUDs are 20 times more effective at preventing pregnancy in comparison to the pill, the patch, or the ring.
I have said it before, and I’ll say it again. The next time you have a gynecology appointment, talk to your doctor about getting an IUD. The effectiveness, the peace of mind, and the lack of hassle are worth it. Arm yourself with information, and if they refuse to consider you for an IUD, then find another gynecologist. I have heard anecdotal evidence that Planned Parenthood is particularly pro-IUD for anyone who is interested in getting one.
Hopefully you will never be in a situation where you need to think about emergency contraception. But if you miss a pill, or the condom breaks, or you were raped, it is your best bet to avoid an unwanted pregnancy. While the copper IUD (brand name: Paragard) can also be used as emergency contraception, I am going to focus on the types of contraception I have not previously discussed. Read the rest of this entry