Oh Planned Parenthood. One of the most wonderful and terrifying places all at once. It is an amazing thing that we American women have a safe and affordable clinic at which we take care of our health concerns. However, the “horror” stories from Planned Parenthood are also endless. From a supposed long wait in an intimidating waiting room to rude employees and frequent miscommunications, many women (and men!) are too intimidated to frequent Planned Parenthood as often as they should. In order to avoid falling prey to such rumors, follow some of these tips below and be prepared for your next trip to the clinic.
1) Pick the right clinic for you.
If you are living in Los Angeles or any other major city, chances are you have a multitude of clinics to choose from. Shop around and make sure you pick one that is in a convenient and comfortable area for you. For example, I drive the extra thirty minutes to my clinic because it is in a popular shopping center with ample parking. Consequently, I can always knock out a few errands before or after my appointment.
2) Make an appointment.
Sounds obvious, but I am just going to reiterate that unless you want to spend your entire day in Planned Parenthood, make an appointment. There is still a chance you may have to wait a fair amount of time, however you will still have a guaranteed appointment with your doctor. After clicking the above link, you can choose which center you will be visiting and how to request an appointment.
3) Know your insurance information.
If you are uninsured, Planned Parenthood will cover the costs of your visit. However, if you do have your own personal insurance, you may be charged. For more information on how to navigate insurance concerns at your clinic:
If any issues arise in which you feel you are being wrongly charged or you cannot afford your visit, ask to speak to a supervisor immediately. I know it can be awkward and uncomfortable, but it is worth it. My first visit I was almost charged a fair amount of money, but everything was cleared up after I waited the extra time to speak with the clinic’s supervisor. Be a proactive boss and make sure you get all your questions answered.
4) Request to get tested for EVERYTHING.
Did you know that when you go to Planned Parenthood to get tested, you are NOT getting tested for syphilis or herpes? And that you have to consent to HIV testing? Make a point to ask that you get all of your tests done. You never know, and wouldn’t you rather be safe than sorry? For more information on STD testing and procedures:
5) Be honest, take everything that is offered to you and save your paperwork.
Never lie to your doctor and always bring up anything that seems off to you—no matter how minor. At the end of your appointment, you should receive a bag of condoms and, in most cases, the Morning After Pill. If they do not offer you an emergency contraceptive for any reason, request it. And on that note, I always save all of my invoices from Planned Parenthood. These invoices help you track your testing, list any medication you received, and include your doctor’s name for any future contact information you may need.
These are just the basics of Planned Parenthood etiquette. For more information, check out their tumblr—they are really responsive to questions they receive.
Information compiled by Julia Childs
Infographic created by Sara Haas