What to expect the first time going to Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood is located at 2530 Chamberlain St. in Ames. 

Hannah Scott

Even with the coverage and controversy through media outlets, Planned Parenthood is an organization that is shrouded in confusion. 

When many people hear the words Planned Parenthood, their mind jumps to abortion. However, it is important for individuals to be educated about the fact that while abortions are a small percentage of the services Planned Parenthood offers, the organization does so much more for individuals of all ages.

Around 1.5 million women and 250,000 men get their health care from Planned Parenthood every year, and to some who may need to use the service, it might seem scary to have to jump headfirst into a world you may have never known about before.

Just like any other clinic, Planned Parenthood exists to help people in need get the necessary services with minimal hassle.

“The main services I needed from Planned Parenthood were to receive pregnancy tests and guidance,” said a student who wished to remain anonymous.

Planned Parenthood offers many services in the area of reproductive and sexual health, including birth control, pap smears and STD/STI screenings, as well as guidance and help to those who may be in a difficult situation. 

Though it may seem intimidating for some to go and seek help from a service that is sometimes surrounded in a stigma, it is important to remember that Planned Parenthood hires and trains their staff to be kind, judgement-free and helpful to anybody who walks in with a question or problem.

“Without having insurance, I was unable to get birth control from a regular doctor’s office,” said an individual who wished to remain anonymous. “They are super accommodating whether or not you have insurance and typically use a sliding price scale based on your income level.”

When first going to Planned Parenthood, some may have questions about what their experience will look like, the process of getting an appointment or any information that is needed. Just like many other doctor’s offices, an appointment at Planned Parenthood will look quite similar to any other clinic you have visited in the past.

“I walked into the building and asked for a test,” the anonymous student said. “They asked me some preliminary questions like my name, address, phone number and if I had insurance. I would then sit down and wait for my name to be called. I was taken back, instructed how to take the pregnancy test and sterilize as much as possible. The employees would run the tests and come back into the room with my results. I would be asked when my last period was, if I was having protected sex or if I was concerned about an STI as well. After I was finished, I would go to the payment desk, pay cash and leave.”

For some, the idea of using Planned Parenthood may seem unappealing as there is a stigma attached to the organization. However, just like any other health clinic, its first and foremost purpose is to serve the individuals who need it.

“To some degree, I think there is a stigma that it is a place used by lower-income individuals, and you might feel ‘weird’ being there for the first time,” the anonymous individual said. “But the care they provide is so good that you shouldn’t feel bad about going there.”

As for the end result, most individuals who have gotten care from Planned Parenthood leave with a generally positive experience. 

“The employees were efficient and straight to the point,” the anonymous student said. “Since I was negative and still had not gotten my period, they recommended further steps and were overall helpful. I would go back if I had other issues.”

Ultimately, taking care of yourself is one of the most important things you can do. If situations do arise, knowing that there is nothing wrong with taking charge of your own body and health can be a very uplifting experience for many who end up taking the steps.

“I remember the first time after I left Planned Parenthood getting birth control feeling really empowered,” the anonymous individual said. “Like, I took a step all by myself to be safe and healthy, and everyone there was so supportive.”