Category Archives: STDs

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.

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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.

Ashamed to Ask About STDs?

Perhaps you’ve heard that STDs are a serious and growing problem. Maybe you know that young people between the ages of 15-24 account for half of the 20 million new STD infections that occur in the U.S. each. And you might have heard that one in four sexually active adolescent females has an STD.

But you probably still feel like it can’t happen to you. Most of us do.

Ashamed to ask about STDs?
Nearly 9 in 10 young women don’t think they’re vulnerable to getting STDs. But statistics show they are. (Photo by Daniel Spase on Unsplash.)

Nearly 9 in 10 young women don’t think they’re vulnerable to getting chlamydia or gonorrhea. But statistics say they are.

We don’t like to talk about STDs. And we usually feel like we don’t have to. Most people who have chlamydia don’t know it since chlamydia often has no symptoms. It’s the most commonly reported sexually transmitted disease in the United States. In Wisconsin alone, there were nearly 27,000 cases of chlamydia in 2016, a 10% increase over 2015. And while there were only about 6,500 cases of gonorrhea, that was a 24% increase over the previous year.

But it’s easy to ignore the numbers. Who wants to ask about getting tested when they feel fine?

But did you know?

Cases of gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis are at an all-time high. Left untreated, STDs can cause:

  • Increased risk of giving or getting HIV
  • Long-term pelvic and/or abdominal pain
  • Inability to get pregnant or pregnancy complications

Testing is the only way to know if you have an STD.

During STD Awareness Month, we are spreading the word about preventing STDs. The good news is, STDs are preventable.

What can you do? Some tips from the CDC:

  • First, get tested. First Care Clinic provides free STI/STD testing for women in Madison, Wisconsin. Call or text 608-259-1605 or click to request an appointment. If you’re looking for STD testing for men, one option is Dane County public health.
  • The surest way to avoid STDs is to not have sex. To reduce your risk, agree to have sex with only one, committed, long-term partner who agrees to only have sex with you. Make sure you both get tested to know for sure that neither of you has an STD. Talk with your partner about STDs before having sex. This might not be a comfortable conversation but having this conversation is important.
  • Get vaccinated for HPV. HPV is the most common STD. The HPV vaccine is safe, effective and can help you avoid HPV-related health problems like genital warts and some cancers.
  • If you test positive, getting an STD is not the end! Many STDS are curable and all are treatable.

Have further questions? Check out “Questions about STDs?” or read the CDC’s lowdown on STD prevention.

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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.

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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