How can I complain about my experience at a health center?

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Someone asked us: 

love planned parenthood but what do I do if I have a complaint about a visit? :(

Our health centers have been providing health care and education for a really long time. But we’re not perfect. So if you feel that your visit didn’t quite stack up, we want to hear about it.

The best thing that you can do to make sure your concerns are heard is to follow up with the health center manager at the Planned Parenthood you visited. Give them a ring and tell them about your experience. They’ll make sure that your complaint is addressed and that you get the care you need.

(On the flip side, if you have a super-awesome-wowza experience, you can also call the health center manager and let them know. They work so hard and appreciate the love. <3) 

Coming forward about a negative experience won’t just make you feel better; it’ll also help us improve things for the next person who walks in the door. So thanks for helping us further our mission and provide the best care possible – you deserve a thousand high-fives.

-Chelsea @ Planned Parenthood

ppaction:

Timeline: 100 Years of Birth Control

Since Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger coined the term “birth control” in 1914, contraception has truly revolutionized women’s lives in the United States, and around the world. Brush up on your birth control history, and see just how far we’ve come in 100 years.

SEE THE HIRES VERSION HERE

Does STD testing need to include a vaginal exam?

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Someone asked us: 

Hello, I am a female-bodied trans* person under the age of 18. I need to go get tested for STDs at a Planned Parenthood office and I would like to know if that would have to include a vaginal examination because I have really bad body dysphoria and I would like to avoid that at all costs.

First, the good news:  Current medical guidelines recommend having your first pelvic exam (where a doctor checks the vulva, vagina, cervix, uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes) and Pap test (where the cervix is tested for abnormal cell changes) after you turn 21, so you have a few years to go before you should start getting regular pelvic exams, as long as you’re not having any problems before then.

Most STDs can be detected using a simple urine or blood test, so you may not need to have a vaginal exam. However, some STDs are diagnosed by looking at your genitals (genital warts), or with fluid taken from a sore (herpes, syphilis). Your nurse or doctor may need a sample of vaginal, cervical, or anal discharge or cells to diagnose some other STDs.

So your STD testing experience depends on the types of STDs you may be at risk for. However, nurses and doctors will do everything possible to make your appointment more comfortable. For example, some doctors now allow patients to collect certain discharge samples themselves by having them swab their own genitals privately, so you can ask if that’s an option for you.

Body dysphoria is serious stuff, so getting support to help you cope is an important part of being healthy, just like STD testing. Your nurse or doctor could be a good source of support, so talk with them about your concerns before or during your appointment. They can give you tips to help you feel better prepared for pelvic exams and Pap tests when you’re old enough to get them. If you don’t feel comfortable talking about your concerns with a nurse or doctor, a trans-friendly counselor is another good source of support.

-Mylanie at Planned Parenthood

We’re Glad You Asked…

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Got a burning question? Here’s what you should know before you submit a question to the Planned Parenthood tumblr Team:

  1. If what’s going on could be an emergency, get off tumblr and call emergency services (911 in the USA).

  2. Chances are we’ve already answered your question, so check our tags, archives, or website to get info ASAP.

  3. Submitting questions/comments to us gives us the okay to share it publicly on our page. (We’ll never share your identity or tumblr handle without your permission.)

  4. Sorry, we can’t guarantee a response. We try our best to read and answer as many questions as possible, but we get a ton of submissions.

  5. Most questions won’t be answered right away. If you want answers quickly, use our chat/text program to live-chat with a health educator. You can also contact your local Planned Parenthood health center.

  6. Please keep it short and sweet. Questions are usually published unaltered, but we may edit for content and length.

  7. Although we try our best to be a helpful resource for our followers, there are some things we can’t do here on the internet: diagnose you with an illness; know if you’re pregnant; make or cancel an appointment at any of our health centers; change your prescriptions; or contact your doctor. You can talk with your health care provider about this stuff.

  8. Politically active? Great! So is the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. If you’re interested in protests, rallies, politics, and other advocacy info, check out the PP Action tumblr.

  9. This blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have a medical problem, please call toll-free 1-800-230-PLAN to make an appointment with the Planned Parenthood health center nearest you.

If you read all of our guidelines, you deserve a silly animal gif. So here’s a chow puppy stuck in a bowl

Is it possible to prevent the spread of HIV in your relationship?

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Someone asked us:

Hi! I have a question :) So I’m wanting to start having sex with my boyfriend and well how do I say this, he has HIV and I am wondering the safest way to prevent myself from contracting it or of its even possible to prevent it? Thanks!

It’s great that your boyfriend knows his status and that you’re both thinking about protection. It’s definitely possible to prevent the spread of HIV in a relationship — you two are just going to have to be cautious, that’s all.

Let’s start with the basics: use condoms and other barriers (like rubber gloves) to prevent exposure to the three fluids that can spread HIV during sex: blood, semen and vaginal secretions. (There is a fourth fluid that can transmit HIV – breast milk – but that’s for another post.) Making sure you ALWAYS use condoms and prevent exposure to his genital fluids and blood is going to be the biggest way to reduce your risk when you two become sexually active. 

Even though you know his HIV status, you should both get tested for other STDs before you start having sex — if either of you have any undiagnosed STDs, it can increase the risk of transmitting HIV. Plus your boyfriend’s HIV is gonna make him extra vulnerable to any infections you may have, so take care of both of y’all by getting tested before you start having sex. You should actually plan to go in for HIV testing at least once a year, but possibly more often (ask your doctor what’s best for your situation). 

When you go for testing, tell them about your boyfriend’s status and ask about Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP). PrEP is a daily pill for HIV-negative people that reduces their chances of catching HIV. PrEP should be taken as prescribed by your doctor, and used with other types of prevention like safer sex, in order to provide the best protection from HIV. PEP is a little different —it’s a month-long regimen of drugs given to people who have already been exposed to HIV.

And it’s important that your boyfriend is taking care of himself as well. Following his doctor’s orders, staying on top of his treatment, and keeping himself generally healthy will help you both.

If you’re careful, practice safer sex, and follow your doctor’s instructions, you can focus more on each other, and less on his HIV.

-Mylanie at Planned Parenthood