Happy Holidays from NGHC!

happy-holidays

The holidays have arrived and New Gen’s gift to staff is some much needed, and well deserved, time off.

New Generation Health Center will be closed from December 24, 2012 to January 1, 2013. We will reopen on January 2, 2013 at 9am. However, we know that just because we are out for the holidays doesn’t mean your reproductive health needs are too. So we have come up with a plan for what to do while we are away.

Emergency Contraception (otherwise known as Plan B or Next Choice):

-If you have the green Family Pact card and are 17 years old or older, you can go to any pharmacy (a pharmacist, not pharm tech, must be present) and get emergency contraception for free! Just show them your ID and Family Pact card. If you don’t have your Family Pact card, you can pay for it out of pocket or go to the Family Health Center (info below).

-If you are younger than 17 years old, go to the Family Health Center at San Francisco General Hospital. Open on Christmas!

Location: 995 Potrero Ave., Bldg 80
Phone: 415-206-5252

Medication Refills:

If you are currently a NGHC patient and need an URGENT refill on a medication, please call 415-502-2337 and leave a message with your name, phone number, and medication needed. Although no one will be in the clinic, we will be checking messages. Remember, this is for URGENT refills only (like, you just finished your LAST birth control pack or you are having a herpes outbreak and need your Acyclovir). If it is not urgent, please call 415-502-8336 and leave a message.

Appointments:

If you need an appointment for a non-urgent matter, please call 415-502-8336 and leave a message with your name and phone number. When clinic reopens we will call you back to schedule an appointment.

Urgent/Emergency Care:  As always, NGHC refers all urgent care needs to San Francisco General Hospital Urgent Care or Emergency Room.

Urgent Care:
Location: 995 Potrero Ave., Building 80, Ward 81 South
Phone Number: 415-206-8052
Hours: We are open every day.  Doors open 8:00 AM daily and close at 9:00 PM on weekdays and 7:00 PM Saturday, Sunday, and holidays.

Pediatric Urgent Care (for those of you 18 years old and younger):
Location: 1001 Potrero, 6M on the 6th floor
Phone Number: 415-206-8838

Hours:

12/24: 12pm-8pm
12/25: 12pm-8pm
12/26: regular hours (8am-8pm)
12/27: regular hours
12/28: regular hours
12/29: regular hours
12/30: regular hours
12/31: 12pm-8pm
1/1/13: 12pm-8pm

Emergency Room:
Location: 1001 Potrero Ave., Suite 1E21
Phone Number: 415-206-8111

Okay, I think that covers it. We hope that you have a wonderful holiday. And remember, the holidays are about more than just gifts. Spend some time with friends and family, relax, read a book, volunteer your time, do something nice for some one, give thanks, and most of all, be safe and take care of yourself. I will be doing all of those above things so I will not be posting for the rest of the year. Next blog: 2013!

In happiness & health,

Shawna

Oh, and for a good laugh check out this funny NGHC crew holiday video. And this one from yours truly, click here!

1 Shot, 2 Prevent Pregnancy, every 3 months!

Hey Shawna,

I heard about a birth control method you only have to take 4 times a year!?!? Is that for real?

-Anonymous

Whoop whoop! There sure is!

What it is: The Depo Provera, more commonly known as the ‘shot’. The shot contains progestin, a hormone that prevents your ovaries from releasing eggs. It also thickens your cervical mucus, which helps block sperm from getting to the egg in the first place. Don’t remember or understand all this talk about ovaries, eggs and cervical mucus? Click here!

How to use it: It’s a shot given in the arm or butt area every 3 months by a medical provider.

The Good Stuff:

• Only have to take it 4 times a year!

• No daily pill to remember or weekly patch to change or even monthly ring to remove and reinsert!

• No one knows you are using it!

• Can be used while breastfeeding (unlike most pills, the patch & the ring).

The Not so Good:

• You have to go to a hospital or clinic every 3 months (but it beats going to pharmacy every month).

• It can change your period. Some women bleed more often (in between periods and/or heavier periods) and others don’t have periods at all. The irregular bleeding usually becomes more regular the longer you are using the shot. And for the women, who don’t have their periods at all, some love it and others don’t. Just know that not having your period due to being on Depo is totally normal and not bad.

• Some women report weight gain. However, others report weight loss. Many report no change in weight at all. Unfortunately the only way to know if Depo has an impact on your weight is by trying it.

• The Depo shot can lower your bone density but don’t worry, this isn’t dangerous and your bones will return to normal after stopping the depo. Definitely talk to your clinician about this if you have concerns.

• And like all birth control other than condoms, the shot does not protect against STD’s or HIV.

In happiness & health,

Shawna

Reviewed by Koher Der Simonian, MD

Your Bagel Isn’t the Only Thing that Needs to be Smeared!

What is a pap smear? And when should I get one?

A pap smear is a routine screening test where a clinician uses a small brush to gather cells from the cervix (starting at age 21 and every 3 years thereafter if the result is normal).  To do this, the clinician first places a speculum (looks kind of like a duck beak) in the vagina (which is a canal) to create some space that lets the clinician reach the cervix (the lower part of the uterus).  This sample is sent to a laboratory to be examined to look for any kind of abnormal changes in the cells.  The exam is slightly uncomfortable and can cause feelings of pressure or cramping.

cervical_smear

What is an abnormal pap smear?

An abnormal pap smear is a lot more common than you might think.  Sometimes bleeding, recent pressure on the cervix from sex, semen (cum) or common vaginal infections can cause cervical cells to appear abnormal.  Other times, cervical cell changes are due to a sexually transmitted infection known as Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).  More about HPV below.

So why are abnormal cells such a big deal?

Abnormal cells on the cervix  can lead to cervical cancer if not monitored and/or treated.  However, that doesn’t mean an abnormal pap will lead to cervical cancer.  That’s because it takes a long time for abnormal cells to turn into cancer.  I mean, a really long time with plenty of time for treatment.  Cervical cancer is treatable!  So as long as you are getting routine paps, even if the result is abnormal, there is a very low risk of cervix cancer.

What happens if I get an abnormal pap?

Usually, a clinician will simply want to repeat the test in 6 months.  This is because the immune system will generally clear the abnormal cells.  In less common situations, a clinician may want to do a colposcopy.

90% of abnormal PAP smears will get better on their own.

What is a colposcopy?

A colposcopy is a more specific test to examine abnormal cells of the cervix.  A colposcopy uses a large microscope (called a coloposcope) that allows the clinician to look at the cervix more closely.  Your clinician may put acetic acid (vinegar) on your cervix in order to see the abnormal areas on the cervix more easily.  The clinician may take a small biopsy (a tiny sample of cervical cells) to send to the lab for examination.

What is HPV?

HPV (human papilloma virus) is spread by skin to skin contact.  There are over 100 types of HPV viruses; about 40 of those types can cause genital infections and are sexually transmitted.  Some strains can cause genital warts and others can cause cell changes on the cervix.  About 14 types can, in rare cases, lead to cervical cancer.  Over 80% of men and women get infected with HPV one or more times in their life.  But as I mentioned above, usually the immune system clears the virus and a person may not ever know they even had it.

The best way to protect yourself from HPV is abstinence or condom use.  It’s important to acknowledge that because condoms do not cover all of the genital skin,  transmission is still possible.  But because condoms prevent skin to skin contact with the cervix, they do protect against the strains that can cause cervical cell changes which is way awesome!

In happiness and health,

Shawna Pattison & Mei-Lani

Reviewed by Andrea Raider, NP & Debby Davidson, NP