Category Archives: Birth Control

“I Was Too Embarassed to Tell Anyone” ~ A Story of Reproductive Coercion

Maine Family Planning is committed to healthy sexuality for all people and works closely with domestic violence agencies to help prevent abuse and coercion. This piece was written by a Maine woman who hopes that her story will help other survivors of abuse and the people who support them.

*TRIGGER WARNING*: This post deals with a personal account of relationship abuse and may be triggering to some people.

woman at windowI never thought I would share this story outside a couple very close friends or family, but a perfect storm of events made me feel compelled to get it all out. During the week that would have been my daughter’s second birthday, we threw a baby shower for my sister, and a friend posted an article she wrote about reproductive coercion. I told her what it meant to me, and she encouraged me to share my story with others. Continue reading

A Brighter, Healthier Future, With the Help of Family Planning

lemons and lemonadeWhen we chose the theme Turning Lemons into Lemonade for our Pledge-a-Picketer campaign this year, we were thinking about the protesters at our gates as the lemons and the support for our services as lemonade. It makes perfect sense and it’s a catchy title.

This week, as I was reading through some of the comments we’ve received from our patients, I was struck by a totally different way that the lemons into lemonade theme can be used in relation to our work.

Reflecting on the stories our patients shared, I realized that when we provide  family planning and abortion care services we are helping the women and families who rely on us to turn the lemons that life presents them into the lemonade of a brighter, healthier future.

I’d like to share two very different patient experiences – in their own words – to illustrate what I mean. Here’s the first one: Continue reading

Protesting Doesn’t Reduce Abortion. Effective Birth Control Does.

This piece originally ran in the Bangor Daily News.

This week marked the start of “40 Days,” an anti-abortion protest that is held all over the United States at this time of year. Every day for about six weeks, patients, visitors and staff of Maine Family Planning in Augusta will pass a gauntlet of protesters at our front gates.

These protesters wave rosaries, sing hymns and pray loudly. They gather near the gates, trying to slow down the cars approaching our parking lot. They make no distinction between patients who are coming in for an annual exam, to pick up their birth control supplies, or to get life-saving breast and cervical health screenings. Worst of all, the protesters will display and carry signs spreading lies about abortions and the women who have them.

Are these protesters interested in knowing the facts surrounding abortion? I suspect not.

Based on what I’ve seen of their tactics in my 25-plus years doing family planning work, they don’t want to hear the truth. However, Bangor Daily News readers deserve better. They deserve to know the real story of abortion in our country and our state. Continue reading

Birth Control Method Risks ~ The Real, True NuvaRing Story

Another month, another sensationalistic article about women’s health, right? You may have seen Vanity Fair’s recent piece, Danger In The Ring, and wondered what’s going on with the NuvaRing– a fairly popular method of birth control that Vanity Fair decries as “potentially lethal.”

First off, let’s chat about the NuvaRing. It’s a small, flexible ring that is inserted into the vagina once a month and releases hormones into the body, and it’s about 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. The ring contains the same hormones (estrogen and progestin) as many birth control pills and the patch. But the ring only has to be inserted once a month and it isn’t visible on the body. The most common side effects of the ring are irregular bleeding, breast tenderness, and nausea.

A rare but much more serious side effect of the NuvaRing is the risk of blood clots. This risk is the focus of some recent articles. The hormones in any combined-hormonal method (the pill, patch, and the ring) can make your blood clot more easily. If a blot clot forms in the leg (called deep vein thrombosis or DVT), it can travel to the lungs, which is very serious and can be fatal if not treated.

So what is the risk of using the NuvaRing, relative to other risks?  Continue reading

Good News ~ Bad News: Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014

Another year has drawn to a close and we’ve got a brand new year ahead of us. It’s the perfect time to take stock of where we’re been and where we’re headed in the world of reproductive health and rights in the U.S. and here in Maine.

Here’s a piece of good news from 2013: a major study published this year showed that intrauterine devices (IUDs) are safe for teens and there’s no reason to deny them this option. This is a great affirmation of the work of the FPA, where we’ve seen a significant increase in the number of patients getting IUDs and other long-acting, reversible contraceptives at our health centers.

Increased use of IUDs is one of the major reasons for this other bit of good news from the past year: across the country, teen pregnancy rates reached historic lows (again!).

And that’s great! Because access to family planning contraceptive services is linked to all sorts of positive outcomes, including higher incomes later in life.

All of this makes us wonder why, despite the proven value of birth control, certain groups of people keep trying to prevent access to contraceptive care for women and teens.

Consider the following… Continue reading

Plan B — Will it Work for You?

Earlier this week, news outlets were filled with warnings about the differences in the effectiveness of emergency contraception (EC) relative to a woman’s weight or body mass index (BMI).

In case you missed it, the big news is that the European version of Plan B will start carrying a warning telling women over 165 pounds that the drug is less effective for them and women over 176 pounds that it likely won’t work for them at all.

The news raises concerns among U.S. women about the effectiveness of Plan B for women of a certain size. Here at the FPA, our clinical leadership was quick to respond. We’ve read the studies and reviewed the recommendations from experts in the field of reproductive health, in order to update our own clinical guidelines in relation to EC.

Here’s the scoop. Continue reading

Healthy Kids. Happy Parents. Thanks Birth Control!

99% of adults have used birth control.

It’s that common because it’s that wonderful and it makes so much else in our lives possible.

Which gets us thinking: during this season of giving thanks, and with so many of us having used contraception at some point in our lives, what if we all took a moment to share why WE are thankful for contraception?  (Turkey and awkward holiday conversation with your uncle Jim not required.)

The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and Bedsider (link) are challenging people all over the country to have an open, honest conversation about birth control and to speak positively about what birth control makes possible for our society. After all, says National Campaign CEO Sarah Brown, “if we can’t talk about contraception, how can we expect people to be comfortable using it?”

So, in the spirit of saying thanks for all that birth control has done for us, please join us TODAY, November 12TH, in sharing why we are thankful for contraception!
You can share a picture, note, or even a video on our Facebook page and use the hashtag #thxbirthcontrol in your message.

Need some help getting started?  Check out this great video, share one of Bedsider’s #thxbirthcontrol postcards, or search the #thxbirthcontrol hashtag on Facebook to see what others have to say!

Here’s what some of our friends had to say: Continue reading

Don’t Be Scared ~ Emergency Contraception is Here

It’s Halloween! Zombies and vampires can be spooky but few things are as anxiety inducing as a pregnancy scare. But have no fear. Emergency contraception (EC) is now available over the counter to anyone, of any age, without an ID.

Here’s what you need to know about getting EC to help prevent an unplanned pregnancy. Continue reading

Family Planning Matters! Five Reasons to Watch & Share This New Video

What a week it’s been!

Unable to come to an agreement on the budget, the U.S. government shutdown for the first time since 1995.

Despite opposition from conservatives, the new Health Insurance Marketplace opened and millions of uninsured Americans visited healthcare.gov to learn how they might get insurance coverage.

And the Guttmacher Institute released a terrific new video about the importance of Federal Title X Funding for Family Planning services.

Here are five reasons why I believe this new video is very much worth watching all the way through and sharing widely.
Continue reading

EC — Over the Counter, For You & Me

Good news!

Yesterday, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order denying the federal government’s request to stay a U.S. District Court judge’s decision to make emergency contraception(EC) available over the counter, without age restrictions. 

What this means for you and me — our sisters, daughters, friends, etc… — is that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has to comply with a previous court order and allow emergency contraception such as Plan B to be sold on store shelves, just like aspirin and other over-the-counter medications.

Why is this such good news?
Continue reading