Birth Control

Maternal & Family Health Services Announces Urgent Voluntary LO/OVRAL Recall

If you are currently taking LO/OVRAL and are an MFHS client, please call your local MFHS family planning clinic immediately to see if your medication is on the recall list and to receive guidance related to your birth control options.

Maternal & Family Health Services has received a notice that the birth control pill, LO/OVRAL has been recalled by the manufacturer due to the fact that some of the pill packs may contain an inexact count of placebo or active ingredients.  Because of this, MFHS will no longer make this contraceptive available until further notice.  However, MFHS does have an alternative available to our clients.

National Day To Prevent Teen Pregnancy

The simple message behind the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy is: sex has consequences. May 4, 2011 has been set aside to help remind teens of this, and to help them learn how to make healthy and safe choices when it comes to their reproductive health.

The latest news on teen pregnancy has been good – the U.S. teen birth rate has continued to decline and as of 2009 is at a record low. Even with this good news, still, 3 out of 10 girls find themselves pregnancy before they turn 20. It’s proof that we need to continue to build on the progress already made and help more teens postpone starting their families until they are in a better position: older, finished with school and in stable relationships.

So what can you do to help prevent teen pregnancy? The first step is to talk to your teens, or the teens in your life, about why they should take the risk of pregnancy seriously. Talking with a trusted adult about waiting to have sex, and practicing safe sex when they do become sexually active, can make a big difference in a teen’s decisions. Let them know you are available to help and to answer questions.

You can also help them take charge of their reproductive health by helping them access reliable information online that’s directed towards teens. Often teens may be embarrassed to ask some questions about reproductive health, but an online resource allows them to get the information they need anonymously. Safeteens.org has a large library of articles that are the perfect complement to  the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy’s message. We hope that – in some modest way – the National Day will help teens think carefully about sex, relationships, contraception, the possibility of pregnancy, and the lifelong challenges of being a parent.

Take Your Teens On A Virtual Tour Of A Family Planning Center

Teaching teens about responsible reproductive health is undoubtedly a challenge. Whether you are a parent, educator or a youth leader, you want to show teens why taking charge of their health is important, and also make them comfortable having these discussions.

Maternal & Family Health Services is proud to present a tool to help you as you educate your teens about making these positive choices: the Safeteens Virtual Visit Toolkit. This cd toolkit includes a video of teens at their first visit to a family planning center. You can watch as they learn what happens at the center and ask some common questions that teens want to know about reproductive health.

The MFHS Virtual Visit CD toolkit is designed to help remove the fear that many teens have of their first family planning visit and helps them feel more comfortable with the topic of reproductive health. There are also resources to help educators and parents talk to their teens about safe sex, STDs and pregnancy prevention.

Order your copy today for only $19.99. Download our order form or call 1-800-367-6347 today!

Let’s Talk About Sex – The Film

On April 9th, a fascinating new look into the world of teen sexual activity and pregnancy will be airing on TLC – “Let’s Talk About Sex”. This documentary examines how American attitudes about adolescent sexuality affect teenagers and their families today. Living in a society that uses sex to sell just about everything doesn’t necessarily mean that there is an openness about discussing it. There is a fear about discussing sex with our youth, and this film examines the consequences of the silence that results: teen pregnancy, STDs, and HIV.

The film itself talks about sex and sexuality with teens and their families, along with experts in the field of sexuality. You will get a look at how other countries deal with teen sexuality and where they succeed in protecting their youth, and see how you can apply these ideas in your own home with your teens.

The movie’s website: letstalkaboutsexthefilm.com has more information about the film, along with some resources to help parents start the conversation about safe sex and sexuality with your teens. You can get even more information on healthy sexuality and healthy living for teens at SafeTeens.org.

Using Teachable Moments To Talk With Teens About Sex

Do you remember how your parents talked with you about sex when you were growing up? Did they have “The Talk” with you once and try to answer all your questions at once? Or did your parents keep it more informal and talk about topics as they presented themselves? Some parents like to guide the conversation while others sit back and let their kids ask the questions. Whatever your discussions were like with your own parents, now is the perfect opportunity for you to create a healthy dialogue with your own children about safe sex and healthy relationships.

If you’re nervous about when or how to broach the topic of sexuality with your teens, looking for teachable moments can be a good way to ease into the conversation. Teachable moments are unplanned events that happen throughout the day that can make excellent conversation starters. They also allow parents to make sex an open, ongoing discussion with teens. It opens the doors to healthy communication, rather than a one shot deal with “The Talk.”

Teachable moments can involve things you see when you’re out driving or shopping, or depictions of love and sex on television. Shows geared towards young adults often depict sexual situations and can be interesting to discuss. Even dating stories or events happening in their friends lives can work.

When the moment presents itself, ask gentle questions to see what your teen thinks or feels. It can help you see how accurate the information they have is, and what their attitude towards sex is. Offer your own opinions and correct information on birth control and STDs as needed. Don’t try to force your opinion or conflicting information on them, but let them know what you think and that you respect their opinion as well. Often, asking probing questions that help your teen think about the situation differently can work well and get them thinking even after your talk.

Remember, don’t give up on your teen even if conversations about sex don’t go well every time! They’ll know you care and that you’re willing to talk with them if they need it, and teens are always listening, so your message will get through! If you’ve found a good way to talk to your teens about sex, or have experienced a good “teachable moment” please share it in the comments.

Is Birth Control Preventative Care?

As we move into 2011 and more pieces of this year’s health care reform bill start to take effect, an important discussion is happening. This month, discussions on preventative care for women are taking place that will help the government decide what should be covered at no cost to the patient. Among other things, contraceptives are going to be considered for coverage.

Access to affordable birth control is a serious issue across the United States today. Surveys done over the summer report that one in three women voters have struggled to afford prescription birth control at some point in their lives. That number skyrockets to over 50% in some categories, including women between 18 – 34, young Latina women, and young African American women.

Access to free birth control makes medical sense as it would help women plan their pregnancies, keeping both mom and baby healthy. Not being able to afford contraception invariably leads to inconsistent use. Having access to birth control could help women have their babies at a point in their life when they are prepared for the joy and the responsibility of parenthood.

Right now, it seems that much of this month’s debate will center on whether or not birth control can be defined as preventative medicine, as well as on moral and religious objections to any requirement to cover contraceptives. Until the issue is decided (and even after!), providers of low cost contraceptives like Maternal & Family Health Services will continue to fill the gaps and help men and women access birth control and confidential reproductive health services.

As a leader of reproductive health care in Pennsylvania, Maternal & Family Health Services is closely following these discussions and would like to hear your thoughts. Leave us a comment and let us know what you think!

Your First Visit To A Family Planning Center

Regular visits to a family planning center or an OB/GYN (obstetrician/gynecologist) are an important part of every woman’s health care routine. We encourage all the women who visit or are thinking of coming to MFHS to take care of themselves and to get regular exams so they can stay healthy. Our family planning centers offer many of the same gynecological services you could get at the doctor’s office as well as contraceptives on site, so it’s something we know well! For those without insurance, a family planning center can be an important lifeline to the services they need.

Of course, it’s easy to say how important it is as health professionals. But for many women who have never visited a family planning center or had an exam, it seems like an overwhelming experience. We wanted to break down what happens when a woman visits a family planning center to help put your mind at ease:

It is helpful to call ahead for an appointment, though some centers can take walk-ins. When you arrive, you will have to fill out a medical history, either while you wait or with a counselor after checking in. They will go over the history with you to ensure you are receiving appropriate care. They will also want to make sure you aren’t currently sick.

The staff will ask for contact information, but they are very careful about confidentiality. It’s important they have some way to contact you if you are due for an appointment or are waiting for test results, but will only share that information with you unless you give them permission to speak with someone else.

After going over the basics, you will discuss any reproductive health questions or issues you have. This can include STDs, proper use of contraceptives, and starting a new form of birth control at this visit.

Finally, you will have a gynecological exam. The staff will check you for any problems, which includes signs of STDs. They will also do a Pap Smear which is a way to test for abnormal cells which could lead to cancer. Remember, it’s ok to ask questions during the exam, and the staff is there to help you.

What questions do you have about getting a gynecological exam or reproductive health? Let us know in the comments and we’ll get you the answers!

It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!

No, it’s not Christmas yet, but for some parents and kids it’s a close second. August is almost gone, which means it’s time for children and teens everywhere to head back to school. For many young adults, it’s also time to begin their journey on to college.

Attending college is a fun, challenging and life changing experience for teens everywhere. Often, it’s their first taste of independence from their parents. They’re living away from home for the first time, and are responsible for taking care of themselves and making the most of their college years.

Here are a few areas you and your teens should discuss so they can have a healthy and exciting college experience:

Proper Eating – It can be hard to eat properly when you’re busy running from class to the library to activities around campus, but it’s important to eat a balanced diet. Keep healthy snacks with you in your dorm room or apartment, like fruits and cheese. Also, just because the cafeteria is open 24 hours, make sure not to graze or overeat. If it’s hard to adjust to healthy eating in the college environment, ask to speak to a nutritionist at the school for help.

Fatigue – There may be parties every night of the week, but that doesn’t mean you have to attend. Make sure to get enough rest each night. It may be helpful to set up a sleep schedule, and to avoid sugar and caffeine in the evening in order to ensure rest.

Mental Health – Adjusting to life away from home and the workload of college can result in a lot of stress. It’s important to take care of your mind as well as your body while at school. Join a few clubs and make friends, and surround yourself with a support network that can help you during difficult times. Make it a point to regularly visit with professors during office hours so if you do find yourself overwhelmed with class work, they are able to help you. Also, visit your campus health center if you feel depressed or need some extra help.

Relationships – Finally, it’s important to make sure the relationships you have are healthy. You should be able to have open and honest communication with your partner about your relationship. It’s also not wise to become involved with anyone that uses drugs or drinks excessively.  Finally, be sure to protect yourself by using the appropriate contraceptives. A healthy relationship is one where you can talk about all of these issues together, and make choices about what’s right for you as a team.

Good luck to everyone who is headed back to school in the next few weeks!

Celebrating The 50th Anniversary Of The Pill

It’s changed the lives of women around the world since its introduction. It’s helped people the world over engage in responsible family planning. It’s also often the center of controversy and debate. We can’t ignore the huge impact that the birth control pill has had since it was introduced 50 years ago.

Before the introduction of the pill, contraceptives existed, but the pill drastically improved the reliability of birth control, and it also put more control into the hands of women. If their partner wasn’t interested in using contraception or they were making a personal choice not to have any more children, they now held the responsibility for their own bodies, rather than leaving it up to chance or in someone else’s hands.

Planning when they would have children and how many gave women the opportunity to do many things they had been held back from. College educations and fulfilling careers were more possible than ever. Having the opportunity to determine the number and spacing of their children helped to promote positive outcomes and healthy families across the nation.

Today, there are a variety of birth control pills available for women to take. Though they may have different formulas, they all work in the same, basic way. The hormones in the birth control pill stop the woman’s body from releasing an egg each month. Without an egg to be fertilized, a woman cannot get pregnant. When used properly, the pill is very effective in preventing pregnancy.

There is still a lot of progress that needs to be made in the field of the contraceptive pill. Many women still cannot afford the cost of the pill, or do not have health insurance to pay for the pill. If you or someone you know is in need of the birth control pill, MFHS can help. Our family planning centers can help connect you with low cost birth control pills and many other reproductive services. Our trained medical staff can help educate you about the pill and help you find the right birth control for you.

Understanding Your Birth Control – Barrier Methods

It's important to discuss birth control with your partner as well as a medical professional.

There are a lot of birth control options on the market today. Trying to choose the birth control that’s right for your lifestyle can seem like a daunting task. The first step towards choosing birth control that works for you is educating yourself on the many different types available today. Once you’ve learned a little more about birth control, you should then have a conversation with your doctor on your specific health needs and choose a birth control method with them.

One of the most popular and cost effective types of birth control are barrier methods. As the name suggests, barrier birth control methods are a physical barrier that keeps the sperm from reaching the egg. The most common barrier method is the condom, but there are several other options as well:

  • Contraceptive Sponge – this soft, disk shaped device is made out of polyurethane foam and contains spermicide. It placed against the cervix and stops the sperm from entering the uterus.
  • Diaphragm, Cervical Cap or Shield – All of these methods work in a similar fashion. They are solid latex or silicone cups that fit over the cervix. Some come in one size while others are fitted to your body. Like the sponge, they are more effective when used with spermicide.
  • Female Condom – Similar to the male condom, the female condom is worn inside of the woman’s body. It has two flexible rings that help it stay in place. It should not be used with a male condom and a new condom should be used each time you have intercourse.
  • Male Condom – One of the most affordable and common forms of contraception, the male condom is worn over the male genitalia and stops sperm from entering a woman’s body.

A health care professional can go into more detail on all of these and many other forms of birth control and help you choose the most effective method for you.  If you need help choosing and obtaining contraceptives, please contact the friendly staff at any of our family planning centers and they will help set you up with the right method for you.