Category Archives: Women’s Health

Earth Day, Wildlife Protection, and Family Planning ~ What’s the Connection?

Safe Intercourse Saves Seahorse

Earlier this week, Earth Day celebrations were held in many U.S. cities and around the world. Started in 1970 to raise awareness of the impact human activity was having on the planet, Earth Day is considered the birth of the modern environmental movement.

Here in the U.S. we have a keen responsibility to consider the impact of humans on the environment, because we use much more than our share of the world’s resources. It’s great that so many Americans have become more aware of environmental issues, but we’ll only get so far by reducing, reusing, and recycling. We need to start talking about population growth and its impact on planet Earth.

Since the first Earth Day, 44 years ago, the world’s population has increased by 95% ~ yup, you read that right. In 44 years, the earth’s population went from 3.7 to 7.2 billion. And the folks who study such things, tell us that we can expect to add another 2 billion people to our world by the year 2050. Continue reading

“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

Increasing Medicaid Coverage for Women is Good for Families

The following piece ran in the Lewiston Sun Journal on Sunday. We share it here for anyone who may have missed it.

At a rally in January, Gov. Paul LePage stated that outlawing abortion is the solution to Maine’s declining population. Apparently, he believes that forcing women to have children they are not prepared to parent is key to a prosperous future.

This is an interesting approach, considering the many ways LePage has made it harder for low-income women to get the help they may need to raise their children – ending Medicaid eligibility for more than 14,000 low-income parents, setting time limits for TANF, cutting General Assistance funding, and vetoing an increase in the minimum wage.

Gov. LePage’s policies have made this state a much more difficult place for poor women to raise their children.

When women are forced to have children they are not emotionally or financially prepared to raise, the negative effects multiply through the years, both for families and for Maine. Poverty, hunger and the resultant unhealthy family settings have lifelong repercussions for a child’s health and his or her ability to learn and thrive. Families who have children resulting from unintended pregnancy are far more likely to rely on Medicaid and other social supports, at great cost to our taxpayers.

Most Mainers agree that it is best for everyone when babies are born into healthy, stable families that are ready and able to give them what they need. How do we do this? Continue reading

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends ~ The Value of Community Partners

You may already know that Maine’s family planning providers are experts in sexual and reproductive health. Yet, you may be surprised to find out we do so much more than birth control and pap tests.

  • We provide testing and treatment for STDs, breast and cervical exams for women of all ages, and preconception services for those planning to get pregnant.
  • You can come to us with urgent issues, like urinary tract infections, yeast infections, emergency contraception, or if you just need to grab some condoms before the weekend.
  • We see patients of any gender, any age – and everything we do is confidential and     affordable.
  • At our Belfast location, we offer primary care services.
  • In Downeast Maine, the FPA provides additional family support services.

While family planning services are pretty broad in scope, we can’t always provide every service our patients need. That’s why we partner with other organizations and providers in local communities. Continue reading

Meet Leanne ~ A Family Planning Staff Profile

Leanne Clark, Site Administrative Coordinator, Waterville and Skowhegan Family Planning

If you call the family planning health centers in Waterville and Skowhegan, Leanne Clark is probably the voice you’ll hear on the phone. As Site Administrative Coordinator for these two FPA locations, Leanne is usually the first person to make contact with patients who call or come through the door.

I had lunch with Leanne at a nearby Waterville restaurant and we chatted about her family planning work. Here’s what we talked about.

You’ve been employed by family planning for just over 10 years. How did you get into this work?

I was graduating from Thomas College with my associates degree and moving out of my parents’ house. I needed a job, quick. I heard about this job at KVCAP Family Planning and I applied.  I never intended to stay with family planning so long; this was the job I was supposed to have until I got my real job.

Why did that change? 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