Today I went to Planned Parenthood to get birth control. I’ve been on various forms of birth control since I was 16 but, before today, had never used Planned Parenthood’s services.
I was first prescribed Ortho Tri-cyclen (a form of the pill) by my family doctor. My mother took me to a checkup for my acid reflux and just added in that she wanted me to start taking birth control. It was unexpected but I was definitely sexually active so it was cool. My mom and I hadn’t really talked about my sex life but she had a wild youth and was a nurse so I wasn’t too shocked.
I used the pill throughout high school with no major side effects. I switched pills once or twice based on price/availability. I started using the depo-provera birth control shot when I started college. The was very helpful in my month-long traveling adventure to the U.K. and The Netherlands w/ my partner Tré after my hectic first year of college. I didn’t have to remember to take a pill every day and I didn’t menstruate, huzzah!
After I no longer had health insurance (due to my mom losing her job/having mental health issues) I began going to a local sexual health center. This health center was so helpful because they charged on an income-based sliding scale. I was taking a year off school and working two part-time jobs, making minimum wage. I was living with my partner and our friend Tricia and floundering in a midst of depression and constant anxiety. But having access to low-cost birth control helped lessen some anxiety, for which I am so grateful.
I was on the shot for about two years. For the first year I didn’t notice any major side effects. However, as the second year began I noticed more severe mood swings, problems getting sexually aroused, inability to climax, and other miscellaneous side effects.
So, I switched to a three-month cycle pill (Lo-Seasonique). Since I was use to having no periods while on the depo shot (definite upside!) I wasn’t super keen to start menstruating again. Lo-Seasonique was a good fit for me as I only menstruated every 3 months. I used it for a couple years, up until now, and there weren’t any major side effects. The only side effects that I noticed were some vaginal dryness in the last month of my three-month cycle (which is manageable). Also the anxiety attached to waiting three months to have a period.
I decided to switch up my birth control because I think a monthly pill cycle will be a better fit for me. Plus, more menstruating means more use of my menstrual cup. I chose to go to Planned Parenthood because 1) I missed by appointment for my previous visit at my usual health center 2) I love Planned Parenthood and 3) its SO easy to make an appointment with them.
Here’s a Quick Guide to Getting Birth Control @ Planned Parenthood
1.) So, you’ve decided you want to use birth control. Go you! Safe(r) sex is awesome! The first step is checking out Planned Parenthood’s website. It’s pretty user-friendly and full of good information. I suggest reading up on birth control methods HERE before you make your appointment.
2.) Ready to make your appointment? Rad. The second stop is to go to PlannedParenthood.org and click on “Find a Health Center.”
Once there you’ll be prompted to put in your state or zip code to find the nearest center near you. If that center has online appointment booking then you’re next step is easy! Book your birth control appointment online!
It’ll look something like this:
If the closest Planned Parenthood to you doesn’t have online scheduling then you’ll have to call. I hate calling places but people at Planned Parenthood are generally pretty nice.
3.) Step three is to show up to your appointment! You’ll be asked to fill out a couple of forms with general information and then be taken to an exam room.
At my visit I was asked a handful of questions by a lovely Planned Parenthood employee. She asked about my general health history, family health history, what medications I was taking, when my last period was, how many sexual partners I’ve had in the past year, what kinds of contraception I use, how long I’ve used it, etc. Nothing too invasive. She asked if my partner(s) knew I was there and if I was in a safe living environment. Which is incredibly kind for Planned Parenthood to include. The questions took about 10 minutes.
Then the Nurse Practitioner came in and asked me a few more questions and my birth control history and we talked about options. I told her what I felt like I needed and she prescribed a pill (TriNessa) which I used briefly in high school. She wished me an early birthday (my bday is February 1st) and sent me to the front desk to pick up my packs of birth control.
4.) The last step is paying for the appointment and birth control. This is going to be different for everyone based on location and insurance, or lack thereof. I currently do not have insurance as of January 1st so I paid out of pocket. For the visit and two months of birth control I paid $82.
Hopefully this helps anyone nervous about setting up an appointment and receiving care from Planned Parenthood. If you have any questions the Planned Parenthood tumblr is a great place to ask questions if you’re not a big fan of phone calls. But it’s always better to speak with a health care professional in person–whether it be at Planned Parenthood or a family doctor. Remember that you are important–your health is important! Take care of yourself.