Tag Archives: sexual health

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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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.

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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

Looking for Mr. Right?

Are you looking for “Mr. Right?”

Often we think that if we just find the right person, life will be great. But what if Mr. Right turns out not to be so “right” after all? Or what if he’s mostly looking for what he can get from you? And truth be told, you’re looking for what you can get from him too?

Men might be looking for sex. Women might be looking for companionship and intimacy. Maybe you’re looking for sex too. Or maybe sometimes you feel used and like you’re missing something.

Everyone wants healthy relationships, but sometimes we are not sure how to get there or what a healthy relationship looks like.

First, you need to be safe. If you’re in an unsafe relationship, get help. Call 9-1-1 in an emergency – or text us if you need help in figuring out where to go or how to get out.

Second, instead of focusing on looking for the right person, or holding on to him no matter what, focus on becoming the right person. Are you someone you would want to spend time with? Are you trustworthy? Work on communicating in a way that is loving and truthful.

Third, create healthy boundaries. You are valuable because you are a human being. Do not just go along with what someone else wants because you’re trying to hold onto the relationship. If you want to wait for sex, don’t go to his apartment at the end of a date.

Fourth, consider your values and goals. Don’t compromise your values and goals for a relationship.

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

Sometimes in a relationship, this ordering may get turned upside down. Early physical involvement may stunt the growth of emotional intimacy. Sex may substitute for learning more about each other’s personality, goals and character. When conflict or pain arises, it may be easier to turn to sex than to work through issues and grow together.

It does not have to be this way. 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.

Interested in talking with someone about this? Text or call us at 608-259-1605.

Questions about STDs?

Do you have questions about STDs? Or wonder if you might have one and not know it?

April is STD Awareness Month. There is good reason to be aware of the risks associated with sexually transmitted diseases and infections. Infection rates in the United States continue to climb. Young people aged 15-24 account for about half of the nearly 20 million new sexually transmitted infections each year, according to the CDC.

The approximately 1.5 million cases of chlamydia reported in 2015 represent the highest number of annual cases of any condition ever reported to CDC. Substantial increases were also seen among reported cases of gonorrhea and syphilis.

Also according to the CDC, women and infants are at significant risk for long-term consequences of STDs. For some women maintaining the relationship with her partner may take a higher priority than STD risk reduction, thereby affecting her sexual and reproductive health, as well as the health of her unborn baby if she is pregnant.

So what can you do about it?

First, know the facts.

A few answers to common questions:

Q. I don’t have any symptoms. Can I still have an STD or STI?

A. Yes. While you may have symptoms such as vaginal itching, vaginal discharge or red sores with an STD, some common STDs, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, often do not have symptoms. Most people who have chlamydia do not know it.

Q. How does someone get an STD or STI?

A. You get an STD or STI by having sex with someone who has that sexually transmitted disease or infection. Having sex means having anal, oral or vaginal contact.

Q. Can I prevent an STD by washing or douching after sex?

A. No.

Q. How do I know if I should get tested for an STD?

A. If you are sexually active, you should be tested. See the CDC’s guidelines for how often to get tested for various sexually transmitted infections. First Care Clinic offers comprehensive STD testing for women free of charge. Call or text 608-259-1605 to make an appointment to get tested.

Q. What do I do if I have an STD?

A. Many STDs are curable and all are treatable. First Care Clinic or your health care provider can recommend and prescribe specific treatment for you.

There is good news. STDs are preventable. There are things you can do to avoid getting or passing on an STD.

The surest way to avoid STDs is to not have sex. To reduce your risk, agree to have sex with only one person who agrees to only have sex with you. Read the CDC’s “Lowdown” infographic for more about how to prevent STDs.

Request an Appointment

Welcome

Welcome to First Care Clinic, one of the most trusted women’s health clinics in Madison, WI for over 30 years!

Our medical professional provide compassionate medical care, free of charge and confidentially. If you are experiencing signs of pregnancy, pregnancy symptoms or thinking about abortion, call us.

We are available to discuss your options, listen to your concerns and answer your questions.

We also offer STI/STD testing and treatment for women, diagnostic ultrasound and pregnancy and parenting education.

To make an appointment, call or text us at 608-259-1605.

And visit our new blog to find up to date information related to pregnancy, sexual health, healthy relationships, abortion, community resources and more.