Breaking Down Barriers: Knowing What to Ask at Family Planning Clinics

By Leslie C.

We know that going to your first clinic visit can be a scary thing to think about. Perhaps you’ve always had a fear of visiting doctors or other health professionals, you might think it’s embarrassing to talk about sexual health with a stranger, maybe you simply don’t know what questions/how to ask them, or maybe it’s a combination of two or all these things! What’s truly keeping you from seeking the truth? Sometimes this fear comes from not knowing what to expect at the clinic visit.

As we mentioned in our previous blog, it’s totally normal to want to know more about your sexual health. It’s also important to remember that whatever questions or topics you’re curious about about are topics that health professionals at family planning clinics come across all the time! This means that you can relax knowing that there are many people, like you, who also want to know more about their sexual health, STD prevention and birth control methods. Try to keep in mind that nothing bad can come from visiting a clinic – there's only a wealth of knowledge to gain!

What questions should I ask? How do I ask them?

Don’t sweat it! It’s not about what questions you should ask or how you should ask them, it’s about getting informed. Only you know what doubts you have about your sexual health, but if you’re having trouble being specific, here are some reflection questions to ask yourself:

  • Have you and your partner talked about having sex?
  • Have you and your partner talked about what steps you need to take in order to have safe sex?
  • What’s the most effective birth control option? Are you curious about the different birth control options? Do you know which one is the best option for you and your partner? Did you have unprotected sex and think you might be pregnant?
  • Do you know what STDs are? Did you have unprotected sex and think you might be at risk of having an STD? How can you best protect yourself against STDs?

Now it’s all a matter of getting informed with the most accurate answers. Health professionals at family planning clinics are extremely well-prepared to answer your questions and address your concerns! Here are a few ways you can phrase your questions:

  • If you've had sex and didn't use condoms:

        - "I've had unprotected sex. Can I get tested for STDs?"

        - "I've had unprotected sex. How can I make sure I'm (or my partner isn't) pregnant?"

  • If you and your partner want to have sex and be safe:

        - "I want to prevent pregnancy. What is the most safe and effective birth control method we could use?"

        - "I want to make sure I don't get an STD. How can we prevent getting STDs?"

        - "How important is it to use both homonal birth control and condoms when having sex?"

        - "I'm having sex with someone of the same sex. How can I make sure my partner and I are safe?"

  • If you want to use birth control, but you are scared about side effects, like weight gain:

        - "I want to get on birth control, but I'm afraid of gaining weight. What methods are least likely to have weight gain as a side effect?"

        - "What are other common side effects to expect from birth control? What are uncommon side effects I should be aware of?"

How do I know what clinics are available around me?

Go to Find a Clinic OR text ‘CLINIC’ + your zip code to 877877.