Thank you, Readers!

Hi Everyone!!!

It is with a sad heart that I inform you that I am no longer the Clinic Coordinator at New Generation Health Center. That being said, I will no longer be writing regular blogs (I will be a very very busy nursing student at Samuel Merritt University). I will still answer questions submitted to the blog but those answers (or anything I say here) will no longer be affiliated with New Generation Health Center. I can’t thank you all enough for subscribing and reading over the years.

indexIn happiness & health,

Shawna

Health Insurance – Get Covered!

What is health insurance?

Health insurance is a way to pay for health care. It means not having to pay the full costs of medical services when you’re injured or sick (which can be VERY VERY expensive). You pick a plan based on the type of health care services you think you may need and pay a monthly fee, called a premium. In return, your health insurer agrees to pay a portion of your covered medical costs.
Each plan is different, but most plans cover preventive care, like doctor visits and screenings, as well as hospital visits, ER trips, and even prescription drugs. Some plans cover vision and dental, but you may need to pay for these plans separately.

*Many of you probably have the green Family Pact Card. That is NOT insurance. That only works in California and only covers the cost of family planning services, like birth control.

Why is health insurance important?

No one plans to get sick or hurt, but most people need medical care at some point. Unfortunately, medical care can be EXPENSIVE!!! According to Healthcare.gov, the average cost of a 3-day hospital stay is $30,000!!!! And fixing a broken leg can cost up to $7,500!!!! Having health insurance means you only have to pay a small portion of that.

So, how do I get health insurance?

Fortunately, there are now more ways to get health insurance than ever before. Some people can get health insurance where they work. However, there are many people whose jobs don’t offer health insurance or who aren’t working. It used to be that those people simply had to hope they didn’t get sick or injured but now, there is the Affordable Care Act (often referred to as Obama Care).

The Affordable Care Act means that everyone can now purchase health insurance (meaning you don’t need to have a job that offers it). Also, it doesn’t matter whether or not you have already been diagnosed with an illness. No matter what is going on in your life, you can get health insurance. There is even financial assistance for those who qualify!!

In order to get health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, you need to apply by March 31, 2014 (or you will have to wait another year before you can apply and get covered). Don’t worry, there is no reason you will be denied and remember, there is financial assistance for those who qualify so don’t let cost scare you from applying.

• For those in California, visit Covered California and fill out an application. For those outside of California, visit Healthcare.gov and fill out an application.
• Choose a health plan based on your budget and your individual health needs. Don’t worry; there are a lot of options and financial assistance if you qualify.

How do I choose the right health insurance plan?

Check on this video that can help answer that question!

For more information:
• Check out Healthcare.gov or CoveredCA.com
• Call 1-800-300-1506
You can get help from certified enrollment counselors!

I know this can be confusing but there is a lot of help out there. Go online or pick up the phone. Deadline is March 31, 2014!

In happiness & health,

Shawna

Stick It Before You Kick It! The 101 on the Birth Control Patch!

Happy 2014!!

This is the first blog of the year! Yay! It’s also the last Friday of the month! Why is that important? Well, I will now only be posting new blogs on the last Friday of the month! I may sneak additional blogs in from time to time but from here on out, you can expect to see a new post at the end of the month. Don’t worry though; you can still contact me by email anytime you have any questions – askshawna@yahoo.com

The first blog of the year is about the birth control patch. I have gotten several emails lately with questions about the patch and so I’m here to tell you all about it! And as always, feel free to comment or email any additional questions you may have.

What is the birth control patch?

T_BC_the-patchThe birth control patch is a small patch that sticks to your skin to prevent pregnancy. Like other methods of birth control, the patch includes a combination of an estrogen (estradiol) and progestogen (progestin) to prevent pregnancy. If used correctly, the patch is a very effective (meaning it works really well) at preventing pregnancy.

How does the birth control patch work?

The patch works by “telling” the ovaries not to release an egg (called ovulation). If no egg is released, there is nothing for sperm to fertilize (the fertilization of an egg by sperm results in pregnancy). However, if the patch is missed or used incorrectly, the ovaries don’t get the message (and may release an egg) making pregnancy possible if there has been recent unprotected sex (sex without a condom).

How to use the patch:

Patch How ToWear the first patch for 7 days. At the end of the 7 days, take off the first patch and apply a new patch in a different location (see below for acceptable patch locations). At the end of those 7 days, take the second patch off and apply a new one in a different location. After the end of those 7 days, take the patch off and DO NOT apply another one. Instead, leave the patch off for 7 days. That’s, 3 weeks on & 1 week off.

It’s during those 7 days of NOT wearing a patch that most women get their period (however, some women may or may not bleed the entire 7 days). Regardless of whether or not you are still bleeding, start a new patch only when the 7 days are complete. No sooner and no later.

Never go more than 7 days without wearing a patch, if you do, you may get pregnant.

Don’t use lotions or makeup on your skin near where the patch is

Don’t put the patch on the same part of your body for 2 weeks in a row – skin may become irritated. Also, don’t wear the path on your legs or breasts.

Some women experience breast tenderness when they first start using the patch. That generally goes away within a few weeks.

Before applying a new patch, think about the clothes you may wear that week and whether or not the patch may be visible.

Why some people love the birth control patch:

What to do if a patch falls off or I make a mistake?  

Issues and mistakes with the patch happen. Although the patch is designed not to come off the skin, it’s definitely possible. Also, sometimes patch users forget when to take off or put on a new patch (if you forget often, you might want to consider switching birth control methods). Knowing what to do if that happens can help prevent an unplanned pregnancy. Read the following for some general instructions on what to do if a patch mistake happens!

If a Patch edge lifts up:

Press down firmly on the Patch with the palm of your hand for 10 seconds, making sure that the whole Patch adheres to your skin. Run your fingers over the entire surface area to smooth out any “wrinkles” around the edges of the Patch.

  • If your Patch does not stick completely, remove it and apply a replacement Patch (no backup method is needed and your Patch Change Day will stay the same). Ask your healthcare professional for a replacement Patch prescription so you always have an extra Patch available.
  • Do not tape or wrap the Patch to your skin or reapply a Patch that is partially adhered to clothing

If your Patch has been off or partially off:

  • For less than 1 Day, try to reapply it. If the Patch does not adhere completely, apply a new patch immediately. (No backup contraception is needed and your Patch Change Day will stay the same)
  • For more than 1 Day or if you are not sure for how long, you may become pregnant. To reduce this risk, apply a new Patch and start a new 4-week cycle. You will now have a new Patch Change Day and must use non-hormonal backup contraception (such as a condoms) for the first week of your new cycle

How to purchase a REPLACEMENT Patch:

  • You can get a replacement Patch at the pharmacy where you filled your prescription
  • You will need a replacement Patch prescription from your healthcare professional
  • Unfortunately, Family Pact does not pay for the replacement patch. You will need to pay for the replacement Patch when you pick it up at the pharmacy.

From the Ortho Evra website:

http://www.orthoevra.com/how-use-loose-fall.html

In happiness & health,

Shawna

Reviewed by Kohar Der Simonian, MD and Andrea Raider, NP

Dare to Bare? Shaving tips for pubic hair removal!

Pubic hair (hair around the penis, vulva, or anus) is a totally normal part of becoming an adult. However, some people (and it’s not just the ladies) would rather not have it, so they choose to shorten it or remove it all together (but if you aren’t one of them, don’t worry! Pubic hair is totally normal). The most common way of removing pubic hair is by shaving. Although shaving is meant to leave the area smooth and hairless, it can instead leave the area irritated! Razor burn and ingrown hairs are common concerns for those just starting to shave their pubic area so New Gen has come up with a few tips to help ya out.

Pubic Hair

1. If you have long hairs (usually those who have never shaved or haven’t shaved in a long time), trim the hairs with clippers or scissors first. Electric clippers are best for this purpose.

Trimming

2. The softer the hairs, the easier it will be for you to shave. Try taking a long, warm bath before shaving, or choose to shave at the end of your shower.

3. Apply shaving gel a few minutes before shaving to soften hairs. If you have sensitive skin, you might want to try a hypoallergenic or fragrance-free brand.

4. Use a sharp and or new razor. The sharper the razor blade, the better it will work and less irritation it will cause to your skin.

New razor

5. When shaving, don’t move the razor over the same area more than twice. This will help reduce skin irritation.

         On the first stroke, go with the direction of hair growth to remove most of the hair.

         On the second stroke, go against the direction of hair growth for a smooth, close shave. If going against the direction of the hair growth tends to irritate you (and for many it does, especially when they are new to shaving), then skip that and do both strokes going the same direction of hair growth.

shaving_directions

6. Clean the area after shaving with mild soap and water to reduce the risk of infection. Continue to practice clean hygiene, washing the area at least once a day to reduce sweat and oil build-up.

7. Go as long as possible between shavings to reduce skin irritation.

A few extra tips:

1. The skin around your genitals is extra sensitive. Some people can be allergic to some types of shave gel. If you have sensitive skin, you might want to try a hypoallergenic or fragrance-free brand of shave gel.

2. To reduce the risk of ingrown hairs and razor bumps after shaving, use an exfoliating brush or loofah sponge when washing the area daily.

ingrownhair razor bump

3. When the hair starts growing back, it can be uncomfortable and itchy. Chaffing is nearly unavoidable, but exfoliating the area regularly can help. Exfoliating means removing the outer most layer of dead skin cells. This can be done with a loofah or wash cloth.

Towels with Bath Spa Kit and Gladiolus

4. If you have tried shaving and you don’t like it for whatever reason but still want a sleeker look, consider closely trimming your hair instead of shaving. It provides many of the benefits of shaving without all the risks!

street_art_big_size_17

In happiness & health,

Shawna

Reviewed by Kohar Der Simonian, MD

New Faces at New Gen!!!!

I know it’s been longer than usual since my last post and I am so very sorry BUT I promise I have a good reason. All of us here at New Gen have been really busy training 4 new health educators!!!! Two of the new health educators are the new AmeriCorps members and the other two are San Francisco State University Health Education interns. We are so grateful that these four have joined us. They are proving to be great additions to the New Gen team and like all staff, they are extremely comfortable discussing all things related to sex and relationships so don’t hesitate to ask them questions. So without further adieu, here they are!

AmeriCorps:

AlondraCardenasPhotoHola! My name is Alondra and I am a new Health Educator at New Gen. I have plenty of experience working with teens as a tutor and teacher’s assistant. I am very excited to be working here and helping young men and women make the best reproductive health choices for themselves!
I am originally from Mexico, but grew up in the South Bay. My interests include dancing to a variety of music like cumbia and hip-hop, traveling and going to the beach! I also love to eat delicious, home-cooked Mexican food!

My name is Zoe and I’m a Health Educator at New Gen. I’ve worked at other health centers and clinics doing front desk, Zoeadministration, and translating, but this is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to do education and counseling. I love working with adolescents because they’re still very much in the process of figuring out who they are and becoming comfortable with themselves and in their relationships. It’s a great time to start forming habits and practices that will lead to a healthy and happy life!

I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, but chose the cornfields of Ohio as the backdrop for my college education. After graduation I spent a brief time in rural Guatemala translating for doctors and physical therapists before making the big move to the Bay Area! So far I’m loving the urban life, spending my free time exploring the city and the natural beauty that surrounds it, enjoying free concerts, finding new spots to eat lunch, doing yoga, and trying to learn how to cook! I’m so excited to work for a health center that values and protects the patient’s right to all kinds of reproductive and sexual health services.

SFSU Health Education Interns:

AriannaHello, my name is Arianna, I am currently in San Francisco State’s Health Education program and I am interning at New Gen for my final semester. Ever since high school, I’ve always had an interest in adolescent reproductive health. Growing up in a Catholic school from K-8th grade, I was never introduced to topics of sex, relationships, or reproductive health. It wasn’t until I started going to school at a public high school, that I began learning about sexual health.
It started with a 15 year old me learning about birth control from a guest speaker in my English class. This lesson made me feel empowered to take control over my own body and protect myself and encourage others to do the same. I was “that one friend” in the group who convinced and encouraged everyone to get on some type of birth control. And I was always the first one to call when someone was nervous to go to the school based health center alone. While working as a Health Educator at New Gen, I hope I can be a valuable resource to youth and empower them to take care of their reproductive and overall health and well being. One of my goals is to make sure that youth leave here with the knowledge and skills to make their own informative decisions on their health and relationships with others.

Hi everyone! My name is Elaine. I’m interning at New Gen and loving it. I’m a super senior at San Francisco State University Elaine2with a genuine passion in health and wellness. I love spending time in nature, whether that be hiking, hula-hooping, practicing yoga, searching for stones, or just hanging out with loved ones. I’m a vegetarian and very much enjoy cooking. I’m happily involved with a partner of three years and loving life with him in it! We have a pact to travel to a new place every year we are together. As for me, my life is an open book- no questions are off limits!

So next time you’re in the clinic and you see these lovely faces, say hello!!!! And if you’re interested in learning more about either programs click here – AmeriCorps & SFSH Health Education – they are both fantastic ways to get involved in the health care field. But I must admit I am a little biased, I am a graduate of the SFSU Health Education program.

In happiness & health,

Shawna

P.S. I promise I will try not to lag so much between postings. To help me out, send me your questions at askshawna@yahoo.com

From Bedsider: Mirena Lawsuit – Fact and Fiction!

If you haven’t noticed by now, we LOVE Bedsider here at New Gen! That’s because Bedsider provides all the information you could ever want to know about birth control in a way that is super easy to understand (go check them out by clicking here). Recently Bedsider addressed a concern that we’ve recently been hearing a lot of at New Gen. And although I couldn’t have addressed this subject any better, don’t hesitate to contact me or New Gen if you still have questions or concerns.

In happiness & health,

Shawna

P.S. The following is written entirely by Bedsider and can be found on their site (which I definitely recommend you check out) by clicking “Those Mirena Lawsuit Ads: Fact and Fiction” below the image.

bedsider_social_thumb

Those Mirena Lawsuit Ads: Fact and Fiction

The recent slew of Mirena IUD lawsuit ads are creepy. But are they true? We’re going to fearlessly wade into the scary things these ads claim, because we think the over 2 million U.S. women now using IUDs deserve the real info—without the hype.

What problems are being reported—and how common are they?

Some of the ads say 47,000 women have had problems with the Mirena. But where does that number come from? The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) scrutinizes drugs and devices for safety before they can be sold in the U.S., then continues collecting information about problems people have with drugs and devices after they’re on the market and being used more broadly.

Anyone can report problems to the FDA. Since Mirena came on the market in 2001, the FDA has received about 47,000 reports of problems with it. Many millions of women have used a Mirena over the 12 years it’s been on the market, so this number is actually a small fraction of the total—and it includes common complaints in addition to the rarer, scarier problems the lawsuit ads often focus on.

Here’s how the problems break down (and more about each below):

  • almost half (45%, or about 21,500 women) of the complaints are about IUD expulsion
  • pain during or after the IUD placement makes up 25% of the complaints (or 11,700 women)
  • complaints about more bleeding make up 21% (or 10,100 women)
  • complaints of less bleeding or no period account for 6% (or 2,800 women)
  • complaints of pregnancy with the IUD make up 5% (or 2,200 women)
  • perforation of the uterus accounts for 3% of the complaints (or 1,300 women)

Let’s look at the scientific evidence about how common each problem is and what it means if it happens to you.

Expulsion

It’s not surprising that almost half of the reported problems with Mirena were expulsion—it’s relatively common, occurring in up to 5% of women who get an IUD. Expulsion is a fancy way of saying that an IUD has been pushed out of its ideal location at the top of the uterus. The uterus is one big muscle, so this sometimes happens. In a complete expulsion, the IUD is pushed all the way out of the uterus into the vagina. In a partial expulsion (a.k.a. dislocation), an IUD is pushed only part way out and a woman may not know that her IUD isn’t where it should be.

If a woman doesn’t recognize a partially expelled IUD, it can mean the IUD isn’t working to prevent pregnancy. Signs of a partial expulsion include cramping, pain, and feeling the plastic of the IUD at the top of the strings. This is why doctors often advise checking on the IUD strings. If recognized quickly, a partial expulsion is not a big problem: the IUD needs to be removed, and a woman can decide if she wants to try another IUD or switch to a different method. After expelling one IUD, there may be a higher chance of expelling the next one.

The bottom line: Expulsion can be uncomfortable—and it’s definitely inconvenient—but it does not have lasting effects or cause infertility as some of the Mirena lawsuit ads imply.

Pain and bleeding

During insertion: IUD insertion pain is worse for some women than for others. (Even for women who experience a lot of pain during insertion, they often say it was worth the gain of hassle-free birth control.) After the IUD has been inserted, continuing pain may be a sign of a partial expulsion or another problem, so if the pain doesn’t go away within a few days of insertion, it’s definitely a good idea to check in with a health care provider.

During periods: In the long run, many women using a Mirena experience less period pain than they did before getting the IUD. About one-third of users have frequent or longer bleeding in the first three months, and about two-thirds have some spotting or bleeding between periods. After a year, about three-quarters of women have infrequent or no bleeding at all. On the other hand, some of the problems women report to the FDA are about lighter or nonexistent periods. Some Mirena users see this as a benefit, but if you’re not prepared for these possible changes, they can seem like a problem.

The bottom line: Only you know what’s normal for your body in terms of pain and periods. Learn as much as you can about how your pain and bleeding might be affected by any type of IUD before trying one. If after your IUD is inserted you have pain or bleeding beyond what you expected, talk to your health care provider.

Perforation and migration

For about 1 in 2,000 women, the IUD can get stuck in or puncture the uterus—also known as perforation. (That’s about the same chance as being hit by this satellite falling out of the sky.) Perforation only happens when the IUD is being put in. Highly skilled providers who have inserted many IUDs are less likely to have perforations. Women who are breastfeeding or have given birth within the last month are more likely to experience perforations because the muscle of the uterus is softer at those times.

What does it mean if there is a perforation? If it’s recognized immediately, the health care provider will stop the insertion. It takes about a week for the uterus to heal, and then a woman can have another IUD inserted if she wants. More than half of perforations may go unrecognized at the time of insertion. That may mean that a woman thought she had great birth control when she may not have. If undiagnosed for months, a perforation can make removing the IUD difficult, and can sometimes require surgery. Even in the worst-case scenario of an undiagnosed perforation that requires surgery, it shouldn’t have an impact on the woman’s future fertility.

Many of the lawsuit ads warn of IUDs migrating outside the uterus. Although it is extremely rare, there have been cases when an IUD has gotten past all of the thick layers of muscle of the uterus and entered the body cavity. How rare is this? So rare that even with tens of millions of women using IUDs worldwide, we can’t estimate how often it happens. We just know that there have been case reports in medical journals.

The bottom line: Perforation is rare and, if it’s recognized quickly, it’s not a major health event. Many providers will have you come back 4-6 weeks after an IUD placement to check on the strings and make sure everything is okay. If you’re worried, you can check your own strings. If you can’t find your strings, see your health care provider.

Pregnancy, now and later

Can you get pregnant with an IUD? Unfortunately, method failure is a risk with any and all contraceptives. So, yes—for a very small number of women, the IUD can fail and an accidental pregnancy can result. For the Mirena, this happens for about 2 in 1,000 women. That’s way less common than 90 pregnancies in 1,000 women using the pill—but it’s not zero.

What about getting pregnant after having an IUD? Studies have repeatedly shown that in the year after removing an IUD, over 80% of women who want to have a baby do get pregnant—exactly the same as for women who have never used an IUD. In other words, using an IUD now has no impact on future motherhood.

The bottom line: IUDs fail way less than other kinds of birth control, and they don’t affect your ability to get pregnant in the future.

Serious problems with IUDs are rare—but we understand that’s small comfort if you or someone you care about experiences them. Each person has to weigh the risks and benefits when making any decision, including about birth control, and we hope that this and our other information about IUDs helps create a more complete picture than the lawsuit ads alone.

love your body * have fun * use birth control