Category Archives: Life tips

No More Procrastinating! Take Control of Your Health

It’s so easy to put off things we know we “should” do.  It’s especially easy to just let the months and years go by without scheduling doctor appointments when we feel pretty much fine.

National Women's Health Week
Commit during Women’s Health Week to setting up an appointment to get the care you need to be the healthiest you.

But, it’s time to stop procrastinating. Take control of your health this Women’s Health Week and do what you need to do to be your healthiest self.

When is the last time you had a physical? If it’s been more than a year, it’s time.

If you are 21 years old or older, something high on your “to do” list should be getting a well woman’s exam and a pap smear. This exam will include a pap smear, pelvic exam and breast exam. These exams can detect abnormalities that may indicate breast cancer or cervical cancer.

Early detection can make all the difference in treating cervical cancer and breast cancer – so make time for yourself to visit a clinic for this appointment.

Wondering what’s recommended for you? If you’re sexually active you may also need STI screening, no matter your age. See detailed recommendations about STI screening and pap smears.

First Care Clinic provides pap smears that include pelvic exams and breast exams free of charge in Madison, Wisconsin. To schedule your pap smear/exam or to find out when you’re due to have one, call or text us at 608-259-1605.

Request an Appointment

You may not think that it can happen to you – but it can. An abnormal result can make life feel more challenging for a time but finding out about it can also save your life.

Recently in our clinic, we’ve seen women whose pap results come back abnormal. This does not always mean cancer, but it often means that further testing is recommended.

Here’s one example of what can happen.

“Sherry” came to our clinic and had an abnormal pap result at our clinic. Our medical director personally reviewed Sherry’s case. Sherry’s result indicated that further testing was recommended.

Sherry was shocked and overwhelmed with many feelings. What do I do next? What does this mean? Where do I go from here? Can I afford further testing and whatever treatment is recommended?

Fortunately for Sherry, there is a clinic that can provide follow up testing free of charge. Our medical director referred Sherry to Share the Health Free Gynecology Clinic to get the testing she needed.

Now Sherry had her next step determined but she was still feeling overwhelmed. Sherry’s nurse spent time with Sherry. She helped answer Sherry’s questions and made sure Sherry understood her next steps. Sherry appreciated the support. The nurse followed up with Sherry by phone to check in and see how Sherry was doing.

We don’t yet know what Sherry’s long-term prognosis will be, but she is now getting the care that she needs.

No one wants to get the result that Sherry received, but delaying testing would only make Sherry’s prognosis worse.

If you have never had a pap smear and breast exam, or if it’s been several years, you may be overdue for your check-up. Commit during Women’s Health Week to setting up an appointment to get the care you need to be the healthiest you.

Call or text us today at 608-259-1605.

Request an Appointment

Find out more about cervical cancer and it’s prevention.

Read stories from women who are survivors of cervical cancer.

3 Tips to Enjoy – and Not Regret – Spring Break

Spring Break is just around the corner. Spring Break can be a time to relax, stop thinking about school for a few days and have fun. For some, it means going to a Florida beach and partying. Drinking and enjoying time with your friends or significant other might make for a few days of fun. But sometimes this fun has unintended consequences.

What if you come back from Spring Break with more than you bargained for? Maybe an STD or an unintended pregnancy.

With 20 million new sexually transmitted infections in the U.S. each year, this fateful scenario has become a reality for many students just like you.

But this doesn’t have to happen to you this Spring Break. Here are three things you can do to have a fun spring break that you won’t regret a few weeks later:

  1. Stay sober. Even if you enjoy a drink or two, knowing when to stop drinking helps you make sure that you are making the decisions you really want to make. When you’ve had more to drink, your inhibitions are down and it can be easy for you to do things you would not normally do. It also makes it easier for someone else to take advantage of you.
  2. Pre-decide your boundaries. Decide now, before you leave for Spring Break, what boundaries you want to maintain. It’s much easier to stick to a decision you made earlier – when your emotions and hormones were not involved – than to make your best decision in the heat of the moment. Check out 7 Reasons to Not Have Sex on Valentine’s Day. The same things are good to consider before Spring Break too.
  3. Stay safe. Stay with people you know and trust. Stay in groups of three to four or more people. Don’t let someone pressure you or talk you into going off with him alone.
Make it a Spring Break of no regrets.
Have fun with your friends and make this a Spring Break of no regrets.

Then relax, enjoy some warm weather and sun. Have fun with your friends and make it a Spring Break of no regrets.

To talk with someone confidentially, call or text First Care Clinic at 608‑259‑1605 or visit us online at firstcareclinic.org. If you’re concerned about your sexual health or just want to talk, contact us. Get in touch with First Care Clinic today to make your appointment for pregnancy testing or STI/STD testing and treatment for women. It’s free of charge.

Request an Appointment

7 Reasons to NOT Have Sex on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is all about romance. Roses, chocolate and sex are big items of the day. But if you’re not in a long term committed relationship (marriage), you would do well to think again about having sex to celebrate the day. Stick with the roses, chocolate and a romantic dinner.

Here are seven reasons why postponing sex until you’re ready to say, “I do” is a good idea:

  1. Sex can become a substitute for healthy communication. When you decide to wait a while before you’re sexually active, you give yourself and your partner time to learn how to communicate well. You’ll have space to learn how to navigate conflict without leaving the emotional connection behind. According to Mark Regenerus, Phd, couples who “prioritize sex promptly at the outset of a relationship often find their relationships underdeveloped when it comes to the qualities that make relationships stable and spouses reliable and trustworthy.”
  2. Having sex with a person develops deep bonds in your brain. Having sex with one person and then having that relationship end and starting again and again hurts. It hurts emotionally and part of this is due to the connections your brain has formed.
  3. If you wait to have sex, you won’t have other memories to deal with when you enter the bedroom after you get married. Further, a 2010 study reported in the Journal of Family Psychology that couples who wait until marriage are happier with the quality of sex than couples who have intercourse before their vows.
  4. Refraining from sex lets you enjoy life without the fear of an unintended pregnancy. An estimated 15% of couples with “typical” condom use will get pregnant within the first year. This is reduced to 3% for “perfect” condom use. (Dr. Fitch on Condom Effectiveness: 2013 Update)
  5. Without sex, you are free from the fear of sexually transmitted diseases or infections. STDs are at an all-time high. According to the CDC, Young people aged 15-24 acquire half of all new STDS. Further, one in four sexually active adolescent females has an STD, such as chlamydia or HPV.” While “perfect” condom usage may reduce risk, for STD prevention there is a significant difference between always use and typical use. Most research indicates that condoms are ineffective or substantially less effective at reducing STD risk if they are not used for every act of intercourse. According to the CDC, the most reliable ways to avoid transmission of STDs are to abstain from sexual activity, or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner.
  6. You know that your partner loves you for who you are and not for what you can do for him or her. The man (or woman) you want to be with will respect you for sticking to your standards.
  7. No regrets. Rarely does someone say, “I wish I would have had sex with my boyfriend/girlfriend sooner.” But it is common for a person to wish they had waited longer. Some people wish they’d waited to be sexually active until they were with the person who would cherish, love and respect them for the rest of their lives. Researchers from the 2010 study said “the longer a couple waited to become sexually involved, the better that sexual quality, relationship communication, relationship satisfaction and perceived relationship stability was in marriage …”
Be mine: Roses and chocolate
This Valentine’s Day what if he’s ready for sex, but you’d rather stick with the chocolate and flowers? You have the freedom to choose.

This Valentine’s Day, what if he’s ready for sex but you’re not? You have the freedom to choose.

In a healthy relationship, both people seek to be friends. They focus on getting to know each other and enjoying shared activities along the way. Physical involvement follows relational and emotional connectedness. Sex is treasured and reserved for a lifelong committed relationship.

You have the freedom to choose sex now or to save sex, beginning today, for the person who commits to love and cherish you for the rest of your life.

To talk with someone confidentially, call or text us at 608-259-1605. If you are concerned about your sexual health or want to talk, contact us. Make your appointment for STI/STD testing for women in Madison, Wisconsin today.

Request an Appointment

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

Cervical cancer is one of five main types of cancer that affect a woman’s reproductive organs. Cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control. Cancer is always named for the part of the body where it starts.

Nearly 13,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year. Yet the disease is preventable with vaccination and appropriate screening (Pap and HPV tests). Read stories from some women who are survivors of cervical cancer.

There are two tests that can help prevent cervical cancer or find it early:

  • Pap smears – The Pap smear looks for precancers, cell changes, on the cervix that can be treated. Finding cell changes early and seeking treatment can prevent cervical cancer. Pap smears can also find cervical cancer early, when treatment is most effective.
  • HPV tests – These tests look for HPV, Human Papillomavirus. HPV is the virus that can cause precancerous cell changes and cervical cancer.

First Care Clinic offers Pap smears and HPV testing in Madison, Wisconsin, free of charge.

Request an Appointment

 

 

Find out more about Pap smears and HPV tests.

Wondering if you should get tested?

  • If you are age 21 or older, you should start getting regular Pap smears.
  • If you are age 30 or older, or if you’ve had unclear Pap test results, the HPV test can be used to screen for cervical cancer along with the Pap test.

What are the symptoms?

  • There may not be any symptoms early on, which is why testing is so important.
  • Later on, cervical cancer may cause bleeding. It could also cause vaginal discharge that is not normal for you, such as bleeding after sex. Other things can also cause these symptoms so the only way to know is to get tested.

Ways to prevent cervical cancer:

  • Have regular Pap smears
  • Get the HPV vaccine
  • Don’t smoke
  • Limit your number of sexual partners
  • Use condoms during sex

Ready to get tested? Call or text us today to make your appointment for a Pap smear or STI testing in Madison, Wisconsin. It’s free of charge.

Request an Appointment

Five Things Every Woman Needs (Whether She Has a Significant Other or Not)

Whether or not you are in a relationship, there are five things you need to be your best self and to be a great friend, girlfriend or wife.

Be Confident in yourself. Focus on your skills and talents. Work hard and be proud of what you accomplish. Don’t compare yourself to other women, be it in boyfriends, beauty, clothes or anything else. Never ever feel that your worth needs to come from someone else, such as popular friends or a boyfriend.

Be Self-Reliant. Just like your worth doesn’t come from anyone else, your life should not be dictated by anyone else either. Asking advice from friends is good and healthy, but don’t let anyone else run your life. You need to make your own decisions and figure out what you want to do and where you want to go with your life. Ask yourself – Are you happy with your life? What do you want to change? How do you want to direct your life to make it different?

Good girlfriends
Having some good girlfriends can help you be your best self.

Have some good Girlfriends. Whether you have a boyfriend, fiancé or husband or are single, you need some good girlfriends. If you need to vent or need good advice, go to them. If you want a friend with whom you can watch chick flicks and paint toenails, they’re the ones you go to. If you are in a relationship with a guy (or when you are), make sure that you make time for your girls. Don’t be a clingy girlfriend, ditching all your other friends and demanding all your boyfriend’s attention. Keep up with your own group of friends. Your boyfriend, your girlfriends and you will all appreciate it.

Have your own opinions and beliefs. This goes along with being self-reliant and is quite self-explanatory. Think about what you value, read about and consider issues and ideas. Figure out what you personally believe and find important. Not what your friends believe, not what your family believes, not what your boyfriend believes, not what is popular to believe, but what you believe. You need to believe things for your own reasons. Having your own ideas and rationale will make you stronger. It will make it easier for you to follow your own conscience and be confident in yourself, instead of second guessing yourself and your beliefs — or going along with what other people think.

Last but not least, you need Something You Enjoy Doing. Find an activity or a hobby that you enjoy and do it. As busy as you are – especially when you are in a relationship – make sure to take some time to do something for yourself. Take some “me time.” This is a great way to make sure that your life doesn’t get overly tied up in someone else’s and to relax and enjoy yourself.

When Life is Hard – Be Thankful

Tips for Being Thankful Even When Things Aren’t Going So Well

Happy Thanksgiving
The coming of the holiday season can be a time of great joy for many. When it doesn’t feel that way, check out these tips for being thankful.

The coming of the holiday season can be a time of great joy for many. It can also be a time of stress, emotional challenges and difficult circumstances.

Holidays with family can be a stressful time if family relationships are strained. Or if one or more family members struggle with addiction. Or if someone is often angry or short-tempered or controlling.

The coming of winter can also be a difficult time for people who are especially affected by limited daylight. Colder temperatures and a feeling of being trapped inside can be hard.

Add into this mix any of a number of other personal challenges such as tight finances, job stress or an unintended pregnancy and the holiday time appears anything but happy.

So, how do you maintain a thankful heart and mind in the midst of life’s challenges? Here are five ways to help us be thankful at Thanksgiving and always.

  1. Count your blessings. Counting your blessings helps tremendously. Do you have a safe and warm place to sleep tonight? Will you have food on your table for Thanksgiving? Do you have a job? Is there one person who cares about you? Are you healthy enough to go for a walk? Thinking about what we do have instead of what we do not have can be a great way to develop a heart that is thankful.
  2. Look at the beauty around you. Have you seen the sunrise or sunset this week? Did the clerk at the grocery store smile at you? How many cute dogs have you seen out walking with someone? When we notice the beauty around us, it can lift our spirits and we can feel thankful.
  3. Develop a spirit of generosity. Even if finances are tight, consider sharing something you have with someone who is less fortunate than you are. Giving can be a greater blessing for the one who gives than the one who receives.
  4. Do your job, or volunteer, with excellence. Do you work in housekeeping? Make the rooms you take care of as clean as possible to help someone else enjoy their day. Do you bag groceries? Make someone’s day by having their bread get home without getting smashed. Are you caring for children? Help them to be safe and well fed.
  5. Look for opportunities to make someone’s day. Smile at that person you pass on the street. Offer to help an elderly woman load her groceries into her car. Let a pedestrian cross the street in front of you. Or let someone else have that last parking spot that is close to the mall.

Whether your life has never been better – or never been harder – or somewhere in between, you can choose to be thankful day in and day out.

Happy Thanksgiving – every day!