As a 17-year-old girl thinking about having sex for the first time, I decided to go to Planned Parenthood. I had a million questions – what will the visit be like? How do I pay for it? Will they tell my parents? So here is some of what I learned during that visit.
There is no play-by-play of what your visit will look like because it depends on the type of information or services you need. I asked my doctor questions about having sex for the first time and learned that there are lots of different forms of birth control. To help you decide which is the best option for you, the nurse or doctor will ask about your medical history (mostly questions about your mom, dad and grandparents’ health), check your blood pressure, and ask about your lifestyle (for example, would you have trouble remembering to take a pill at the same time every day).
If you’re having sex (of any type) you should get an STD test every 6-12 months. It’s important guys and girls get tested regularly for STDs – even if you don’t have any symptoms – because the most common symptom of an STD is no symptom at all. Without symptoms, it’s easy to unknowingly pass STDs to your partner. There isn’t one single STD test, but most only require a urine sample. Remember that doctors don’t automatically test for STDs, so just ask if you need one. I also learned that, while birth control can help prevent pregnancy, the only way to prevent STDs is by using a condom every time you have sex
If you tell the doctor or nurse something private, they will not report back to your parents. Planned Parenthood works hard to protect your privacy, and most doctors keep their patient’s information confidential. However, your doctor is required to notify someone who can help if you are being hurt or hurting someone. Also, Planned Parenthood serves everyone, regardless of documentation status.
Tell the truth. You should be prepared for some personal questions. Be honest because the only way your doctor can decide if it’s a good idea to test for STDs, prescribe birth control, or recognize pregnancy symptoms is if you tell them what’s going on. And don’t worry – the doctors and nurses at Planned Parenthood have heard it all. You can’t shock or scare them, so just be honest about your concerns. If you had unprotected sex and need emergency contraception, you can get it then also, many times at no-cost.
Cost is not a reason to avoid getting care. If you are concerned about cost, mention this when making an appointment because you may qualify for low or no cost services. Planned Parenthood has a “sliding scale,” meaning services cost different amounts depending on what you can afford.
Ready to make an appointment? Call 1-800-230-PLAN or visit www.plannedparenthood.org to find the Planned Parenthood health center near you.