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!