Regular reproductive health care checkups save lives. A yearly exam can yield valuable information about your reproductive health, and includes screening for cervical cancer, breast exams, and pelvic exams for women and testicular cancer screening for men. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 6 in 10 people consider family planning centers their main source of health care.
Why is this? In part, it’s because these centers focus on prevention and education. They make a concerted effort to offer no cost or low cost services, non-judgmental information and education, and a community-centric attitude.
Women, in general, spend nearly 68% more on health care than men, primarily for reproductive health care needs. Often, these funds are an out-of-pocket cost they must absorb without the help of insurance. Many are forced to go without, unless they have access to a community family planning enter.
What services might you expect from a family planning center?
- STI Testing and treatment. Testing for STI’s is crucial for those who are sexually active. The incidence of STI’s has almost doubled in the 50+ age category. Partly due to drugs such as Viagra, this age group is enjoying sex well into their 80’s. Since education about STI’s is typically geared for the younger crowd, the message apparently isn’t getting through to this demographic. They feel as if they don’t need to use condoms, because they have often been through menopause and no longer need worry about an unplanned pregnancy. Some, who may have been in a monogamous relationship for decades and are now single again, may never have used a condom. They often are embarrassed to ask how. Family planning centers, such as The Clinic! offer a compassionate atmosphere, education and free instruction on condom use.
- Counseling, information and referrals for unplanned pregnancies. If you think you are pregnant, you need to know for certain as soon as possible. Even if this is happy news, it can be stressful, especially if it is your first child. Having someone compassionate and non-judgmental who can talk you through all your options can make an often overwhelming and emotional situation much easier to navigate – and allow you to decide what is best for yourself.
- Contraception; including emergency contraception. The staff will talk with you about your options for contraception, so you can make the decision that is right for you and your lifestyle. If you are in need of emergency contraception, they will explain how it works and let you make an informed decision.
Family planning centers like The Clinic! typically offer a sliding-scale fee for those who may not qualify for one of the programs that cover reproductive health care, such as Family Pact or Medi-Cal. If you have no insurance, or carry a high deductible, you can still receive excellent care and information from one of these centers.
Many men and women who have insurance coverage still elect to go to a family planning center for reproductive health care, citing the knowledge, objectivity, common sense and care they receive from doctors and staff as well as the time spent explaining procedures and/or medication.
Their goal is to empower men, women and teens to take charge of their reproductive health, make informed decisions and enjoy a healthy life.
For more information about Citizens for Choice or The Clinic!, visit our website at www.citizensforchoice.org.