Staying Safe All Summer Long

Ahh summer… a time for picnics in the park, fun in the sun, and summer romance! With school getting out and summer in full swing many people will have a lot more time for a summer lovin’!


That being said, this week’s blog is all about how to keep yourself safe and protected from unintended pregnancy, STDs, and HIV.

First tip, consider stopping by New Gen (or your local sexual health clinic) to get some routine STD testing. All that is required is that you pee in a cup! The urine will then be tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea – two very common infections. These infections are passed from one person to another through female vaginal fluids and male ejaculatory fluids (cum and pre-cum) of people who are infected. Although it is most commonly passed through sexual intercourse (penis in vagina or penis in anus), it can also be transmitted (passed from one person to another) orally (mouth on penis/vagina/anus). Unfortunately, people with these infections don’t always know they have them because they often don’t have any symptoms. We recommend this test about once a year (under the age of 25) or if you have had any new partner(s) since your last test. The good news is that both infections are completely CURABLE with antibiotics (meaning after you complete the quick and easy treatment, it’s like you never had it in the first place). So why not take some time now to make sure you are tested and treated before any summer flings?

P.S. Want to know more about chlamydia? Click here! And I just realized I haven’t written about gonorrhea yet. Perhaps that’ll be the next post – unless there is something else you are dying to know about first. Let me know!!!

Okay, so although chlamydia and gonorrhea are totally treatable, they are also totally preventable (along with other sexually transmitted infections). You guessed it: condoms! Remember that condoms require special care in hot weather. Condoms need to be stored at room temperature away from direct sunlight to prevent the breakdown of the latex. For this reason, you should not store a condom in your wallet and definitely not in a hot car. Ideally you would carry your condoms in a bag or backpack but you can also keep a condom or two in a front pocket short-term without any keys or other items that may puncture the condom. If you haven’t used the condoms by the time you get back home, put them back in a cool, dry storage space. You can also buy a condom case or reuse items like mint tins (like the Altoids container) for this purpose.

altoids caseWhat about birth control? Well, many of you will have totally different schedules in the summer. For those of you using the pill, patch or ring, you may have to put some extra effort into remembering to take your pills or to change your patch or ring. If you usually take your pill in the morning before school, now you might need to set an alarm instead. Another option is to sign up at to set up an email or text reminder to take your birth control. There are even apps for smartphones that will remind you– “myPill” and “Ring Timer” are some examples.  It’s important to keep on schedule with your birth control because if you don’t, it is less effective and you become more at risk for pregnancy.


Summer is also a time that many people go on long trips. Pill, patch, or ring users need to make sure you have enough birth control to get you through your trip. You can call your pharmacy and see how many refills you have, and if you’re on your last refill, call the clinic to see about getting your prescription renewed. If the Depo shot is your birth control of choice, you will want to make sure that your next shot appointment isn’t scheduled when you are going to be out of town. If it is, give New Gen (or your shot provider) a call and see if they can schedule the appointment before or after your trip, so that you stay covered!

Summer Heart

To all the ladies with an Implant or IUD, you’re all set for the summer!  You have a low-maintenance form of birth control and don’t need to stress about it until your 3 years (Implant), 5 years (Mirena IUD), or 10 years (Paragard IUD) are up! Safe summer lovin’ y’all!

In happiness & health,

Shawna & Angela

Reviewed by Andrea Raider, NP

Pregnancy Options 101


In the last post, we discussed pregnancy testing at New Generation Health Center and said that we would follow up with more about options available to pregnant women.  So as promised, here is a bit of information on parenting, abortion, and adoption.


As a heads up, there are a few references to anatomy (such as the uterus and cervix).  If you don’t remember what those are, click here.  And this stuff can be a bit difficult to understand so if I used words you don’t understand or something didn’t make sense, please ask me to clarify.

P.S. Sorry it’s a week late.  This is really important information and I wanted to be sure I was explaining it well.  I appreciate your patience.

Continuing the Pregnancy and Parenting

Continuing a pregnancy and becoming a parent can bring about all kinds of feelings, both physically and emotionally.  All are totally normal.  In order to have the best possible outcome it is very important to begin prenatal care as soon as possible, ideally within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.  What is prenatal care?  Prenatal care is the specific kind of health care needed during a pregnancy.  It includes check-ups throughout the pregnancy to help maintain and enhance the health of the mother and developing fetus (fetus is the term used for baby while it’s still in the uterus).  Prenatal care visits are also a great place to receive information about nutrition, exercise, breast feeding, body changes, and any feelings or concerns that may be experienced during pregnancy.  During pregnancy it is important to avoid certain substances, like alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine and other drugs including most medication (even over the counter medications), which could all harm the health of the fetus.

When selecting a prenatal care provider, the most important thing is to feel comfortable with the provider (doctor).  Some people ask friends or family members with young children where they went for their prenatal care to get a recommendation.

In California, women who are uninsured can qualify for a program called Medical that covers any medical expenses related to the pregnancy, including prenatal care and deliver.  We can help you apply here at New Gen. You can also check out the Medical website by clicking here.

Continuing the Pregnancy and Adoption

Adoption is the process of permanently placing the child with another family and giving all parental rights and guardianship to that family.  Because the pregnancy will be carried to term (meaning to be born) prenatal care is strongly recommended (see above for more information about prenatal care).

Although the biological mother (the woman who is pregnant) is primarily the person to initiate this process, it’s important to know the biological father may also have some legal rights to the child.  These rights vary from state to state and it is highly recommended that any woman considering adoption look into these rights within her state.

There are two types of adoption: open and closed.  In an open adoption, the pregnant mother chooses the adopting family and may decide to create a relationship with them.  Depending on the adoption agency, the biological mother may have ongoing contact with the adoptive family and the child after adoption placement.  In a closed adoption, the biological mother will not have any information about the adopting family and they will not have any information about her.  No relationship between the two is created and the biological mother does not have contact with the child after she/he is placed.  In some cases, when the child turns 18, he or she may be able to find out information about birth parents.  Adoption agencies can guide interested biological parent(s) through the process and decide if an open or closed adoption is right for them.  However, it is important to note that differences do exist between adoption agencies and it’s important to find one that is best suited for the needs of the biological parent(s).

For more information about adoption check out the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse.


*In California, a woman does not need parental or partner consent for an abortion.
*The following information is based on abortion laws in California and may not be applicable to other states.

I have briefly described the various abortion options below.  It’s important to know that every abortion clinic may differ on a number of aspects.  It is also important to know that the experience of having an abortion is different for every woman.  By no means does this blog post attempt to cover all the details and various aspects of abortion.  If you have further questions, please come see us at New Generation Health Center.

Abortion is a medical procedure that ends a pregnancy.  Women can get an abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy (however, abortion may still be an option after 24 weeks of pregnancy if there are serious health risks to the fetus or pregnant mother).  Although it is important to take as much time as needed when considering abortion, health risks associated with abortion increase the further along in the pregnancy.  Still, abortion is safer than labor and delivery, and has no impact on future ability to have children.

There are two kinds of abortion: an in-clinic abortion (often referred to as a surgical abortion) and the abortion pill (often called medical abortion).

The Abortion Pill:

The abortion pill is a medicine that ends a pregnancy.  It is an option for women who are less than 9 weeks pregnant.  The medication is taken in a two-step process; the first medication stops the development of the fetus and the second medication causes the uterus to contract in order to expel its contents.  Essentially, it is a miscarriage caused by medication.  Although it may sound like a simple process, there are various other effects from the medication.  If this is an option someone is considering, it is important that they be somewhere safe and comfortable.  It is also recommended to have a support person, like a trusted friend or family member.  Most clinics require a follow-up appointment to make sure the abortion was successful.  This may involve an ultrasound and/or blood test.

In-clinic Abortion:

First trimester procedures (up to 12 weeks – although may vary slightly from clinic to clinic):

Most in-clinic abortions involve a procedure called an aspiration that involves placement of an instrument the size of a pencil into the uterine cavity and use of suction to remove the pregnancy.  This suction can be done manually with a hand held vacuum, or with a machine, which is usually used in women over 10 or 11 weeks pregnant.  While a woman may be at the clinic for several hours, the actual procedure takes typically less than 5-10 minutes.  During the procedure, there may be some cramping ranging from mild to intense; it is different for every woman.  Various pain medications may be available but may require the woman to have a ride home.  After the abortion, a woman will generally stay in the clinic until they are ready to leave (usually less than an hour).  There may have cramping after the abortion so it’s a good idea to take it easy the rest of the day.

Second trimester abortions (usually after 12 weeks) are more involved and often require a longer OR a 2 part visit depending on exactly how far along the pregnancy is.  Usually, if a woman is between 12-16 weeks (again, varies by clinic), a medication may be given to a woman to help soften the cervix.  This process may take a few hours and therefore the appointment is usually longer.  Post 16 weeks, a 2 part visit is usually required.  During the first visit, a clinician may place absorbent dilators into the cervix to help it dilate overnight.  At the next visit, the abortion procedure will be performed, usually under full anesthesia.

When facing an unplanned pregnancy, many women find it difficult to decide which option is best for them.  At New Gen, our goal is to help women explore these options and support them in making the best decision for themselves.


We also often refer patients to Backline a free hotline which promotes unconditional and judgment-free support for the full spectrum of decisions, feelings and experiences with pregnancy, parenting, adoption and abortion.  Backline’s number is: 1-888-493-0092.

If you have had an abortion or know someone who has, you may be interested in reading a previous post on the subject by clicking here.

In addition to Backline, here are a few other resources that can provide more information about the options available to pregnant women.

Adoption Connection
National Adoption Information Clearinghouse
Women’s Options Center at San Francisco General Hospital
The Nurse-Midwives of San Francisco of General Hospital
Planned Parenthood
Homeless Prenatal (you don’t have to be homeless!)
Bay Area Doula Project

Again, if you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to send me an email at or come into the clinic.

In happiness & health,


Reviewed by Kohar Der Simonian, MD

Wondering if you’re pregnant?? New Gen can help!

Dear Shawna,

I think I’m pregnant, what should I do?!


We_Are_Here_To_HelpOne of the many things the health educators do at New Gen is help young women with this very same question.  That’s why I have enlisted the help of AmeriCorps member AND health educator, Angela, to answer this question.  To learn more about Angela, check out our Facebook page.

Angela’s Response:

First, take a breath–thinking you might be pregnant can bring up a lot of different emotions.  Next, pick up the phone and make an appointment to come see us at New Gen or at another family planning clinic.  Here’s what you can expect when you visit New Gen for a pregnancy test appointment:

Making the appointment:

Give us a call at 415-502-8336 to schedule an appointment.  If this is your first time coming to New Gen we will get some basic information from you over the phone.  We will also ask when your last period started.  We can only run a pregnancy test if you are at least 2 weeks late for your next period.  This is because a pregnancy test might be inaccurate (wrong) if we do it too close to your last period.

The appointment:

When you come to New Gen you’ll start by checking in at the front desk and filling out any needed paperwork.  The front desk will give you a plastic cup for your urine sample which we use to run the pregnancy test.  After you use the bathroom, have a seat in the waiting room.

A health educator will call your name and take you to a private room.  We usually have not run the pregnancy test yet, because we like to check in with you first.  Your health educator will ask you a few questions about your period, your partner(s), what type of birth control you use if any, and why you think you might be pregnant.  We let everyone know what their 3 options would be if it turns out they are pregnant (see below).  This is a great time for you to ask your health educator any questions you have and to think about what you might do if the pregnancy test is positive or negative.  The health educator will leave to run the test and come back in 5 to 10 minutes with the results.

The results:

No matter how you feel when you get the results, we are here to hear you out and provide the support you want.

If the test comes back negative, you are not pregnant (as long as you are at least 2 weeks late for your period and the last time you had unprotected sex was over 10 days ago).  If you have had unprotected sex in the last 10 days, there is still a possibility that you could be pregnant, but it didn’t show up on this test.  If this is the case, we will talk to you about the most appropriate time to test again to ensure an accurate test.  At this point, if you are interested, your health educator can tell you about the different types of birth control we offer at New Gen (for free!).

If the test comes back positive, you are pregnant.  You have three options: continuing the pregnancy and becoming a parent, continuing the pregnancy and doing an adoption, and ending the pregnancy with an abortion.  Your health educator can tell you more about each option and answer any questions you may have.  It’s okay if you don’t know what you want to do yet, many people want some time to think over their decision, while others know what they want to do right away.  It’s also normal for people to change their mind.  Whatever you decide, New Gen supports you and your decision 100%.

In most situations, Medical will pay for whatever option you choose.  Your health educator will explain how to apply for Medical which will cover the cost of prenatal care or abortion services.  All your options will also be confidential (private).  In California, even if you are under 18, you can choose any of these options without permission from your parents or legal guardian.

In next week’s blog we will explain more about each of these three options and let you know about some great resources available for people who receive a positive pregnancy test.  If you have questions about any of this, don’t hesitate to contact us via email, blog comment, phone, or dropping by the clinic.  We are here to help!

-Angela Freitas, AmeriCorps member

Reviewed by Andrea Raider, NP

When Aunt Flow DOESN’T Visit….P.S. There is a chance to win something in this post!


Why is my period sometimes irregular?

If you miss your period and have had unprotected sex, the first thing to check for is pregnancy.  You can take a pregnancy test at home or come into to New Gen! Why would missing a period be a sign of pregnancy?? Leave a comment with the answer for a chance to win a $25 gift card to Old Navy!!!!


Different pregnancy tests need different amounts of time after a sexual encounter to show pregnancy.  At our clinic, at least 10 days need to pass after a missed period.

That being said, when a pregnancy test comes back negative, many girls wonder why they would have missed a period or why they only get their period a few times a year without being pregnant.  Almost every woman misses a period at some point in her life, for many reasons:


Age: For the first few years after a woman starts menstruating (in her teens) and for a few years leading up to her last period (in her 40’s or 50’s), it is common for periods to be irregular.  This has to do with the body’s adjustment to having a menstrual cycle or not having a menstrual cycle and changing hormone levels.  

Birth Control: Many birth control methods  can impact your cycle. Check out the list below to see which methods do what to your period.

  • The pill, patch and ring:  These methods usually cause very regular periods, happening during the fourth week of the method when there are no hormones.  Usually the periods are lighter, and shorter.  Women sometimes have some spotting at other times in the first month or two of starting this method
  • The Depo shot:  Bleeding can be very irregular at first, but will likely get lighter and lighter and possibly disappear entirely.
  • The Implanon:  Tends to make women’s bleeding irregular.  This could be many months of no bleeding, bleeding or spotting at irregular times, or spotting throughout the month.
  • The Mirena IUD (hormonal, 5 year): bleeding can be very irregular at first, but tends to get lighter and usually stops entirely.
  • The Paragard IUD (copper/non-hormonal, 10 year):  Women usually have a period in the same pattern as when using no hormonal birth control method (whether that is every month or not), but it is slightly longer, heavier and crampier than their normal periods.
  • Many women worry if they aren’t getting their periods that their bodies may be “clogging up” — but don’t worry, if you are not having your period because of a birth control method  it means that your body is simply not creating the uterine lining (hormones are what control the uterine lining development).
  • Missing a pill or patch – you can get unexpected bleeding or spotting for days afterward.
  • Stopping the shot – you can have several months of no bleeding or irregular bleeding before your normal period returns.
  • Taking the “morning after pill” can cause a little bleeding a day or two after you take it, and make your next period come a little earlier or later.

Stress/Changes:  If your period is usually regular, stress can cause a delayed period.  Perhaps you are feeling tired, worried, or dealing with a big change in your life.  For whatever reason your body may decide it is not a good time to get pregnant.  Over-exercise, poor nutrition, and sudden weight loss can all be kinds of “stress.”                        

Medical Problems: There are a couple medical problems that can cause skipped periods, including ovarian cysts, polycystic ovarian syndrome or amenorrhea.  If you are not getting your period and are not sure why, check with your doctor or make an appointment at New Gen.

As you can see, this is a complicated issue! Periods can be as different as women’s bodies are, and many, many life factors can have an effect on our cycles. We recommend using a calendar to keep track! There are many free menstrual calendars online as well as many popular phone apps!


If your cycle ever changes or you simply have questions about your periods, come see us!

Next Week:  Pads and tampons aren’t the only options when it comes to managing your period!!!

-Barbara Haupt, AmeriCorps Member

Reviewed by Debbie Davidson, NP

Had an abortion? You are not alone.

Of all pregnancies in the US each year, half are unintended.  40% of these unintended pregnancies end in abortion.   One in 4 women in the U.S. will have an abortion by age 30.

(Guttmacher Institute, 2011)

If you,  a friend, or a partner have had an abortion,  you might know that it’s not always easy.  It’s normal to have many confusing feelings after an abortion.  The main reasons for choosing to have an abortion include:

  • being worried or concerned for others
  • not being financially ready to care for a child
  • not being ready for a child when thinking about their goals in school or their job
  • not wanting to raise a child on their own or being worried about how it will affect their relationship with their partner (Guttmacher Insitute, 2008)

Most women report feeling relief initially, but some may feel sadness,  anger,  or confusion.  Some may feel nothing different and some may feel just like something is different.  It’s also normal to have your emotions change from day to day or month to month about your experience.  Your experience is your own unique journey.  Your experience with abortion may be something that you have a hard time sharing with others,  even your best friend or partner.

There are people you can talk to.

Exhale is a free and confidential national hotline that connects you with supportive people who will listen to your experience.  You can share how you feel, how you don’t feel, what you think about, and whatever you need to say or do for your own personal care.  Exhale isn’t only for those who have had an abortion, it’s for anyone – a partner, friend, or parent.

  • Watch this video to see who will be on the other line: Exhale: After-Abortion Support.
    As a heads up, this video is from a website that is raising money for the video to be aired.

If you are pregnant and considering your options, there are other people you can talk to.  Backline offers pregnancy options counseling if you want to learn about what you can do when you’re pregnant.  Whether you have questions about continuing the pregnancy and being a parent, or continuing the pregnancy and looking into adoption, or, if you aren’t ready for pregnancy, learning about abortion, you will have support that is free and confidential with Backline.

No matter where you are at, it’s important to keep in mind that you are going through a lot, physically and emotionally.  Be sure to get plenty of rest, eat, and sleep when you need it.  Talk to people you trust when you feel ready.   Breathe, you have people there to support you.

Yours truly,

Mei-Lani and the New Gen Crew

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

Birth Control Myths DEBUNKED

Hey Shawna,

My sister wants to start birth control but is afraid of the side effects.  Is it true that women gain weight when they are on hormonal birth control?  Can you still get pregnant afterward?




Those are very very VERY common concerns.  There is so much information on birth control out there that it is hard to know what is true and what isn’t.  Here I debunk 5 of the most common birth control myths I have heard!  What others have YOU heard???  Let me know!  Oh,  and I should mention that hormonal birth control only protects you against pregnancy.  It does not protect you against STDs/HIV.  Aside from not having sex at all,  condoms are your best option for preventing STDs/HIV.

Myth #1:  “I can’t get pregnant on my period!”

Fact:  Not true!  Although you are most likely to get pregnant in the middle of your cycle (right between your periods – when your ovary releases an egg),  you CAN get pregnant any time throughout your cycle.  There are a number of reasons for this.  First,  not everyone has a regular cycle (a regular period).  Not having a regular cycle makes it really really difficult to know when you are ovulating  (that’s what it’s called when your ovary releases an egg).  Also,  sperm can survive in a woman’s body for up to a week!  So even if you have sex a week before you ovulate,  sperm can be there waiting for the egg.  So if you are not trying to get pregnant,  it’s really important to use a birth control method.  Using a birth control method is WAY easier than trying to figure out when you are ovulating  (remember,  that’s when the ovary releases an egg and happens between periods).

Myth #2: “Birth control makes girls fat!”

Fact:  Not true.  Most women do NOT gain weight on birth control.  For those who do,  it is only a small amount.  Some girls even report losing weight on birth control.  If you gain weight you need to think about lifestyle changes that may be to blame – like not exercising,  eating junk food,  driving instead of walking,  and just getting older.

Girls often focus on side effects and overlook all of the good things about hormonal birth control like lighter periods,  less PMS,  less acne,  lowering your chances of getting cancer of the ovaries and uterus.  And most importantly – not getting pregnant!  It’s also important to remember that the weight gain you fear from birth control doesn’t compare to the weight you would gain from pregnancy!

Myth #3:  “I tried birth control and didn’t like it – which means I should not try anything else!”

Fact:  There are many different kinds of birth control,  and different women have different responses.  Many women have to wait a few months to let their body get used to birth control (this goes for all medications).  You may also have to try different kinds before finding one that works best for you.

One common thing that happens is that a friend or family member tried something and didn’t like it,  which makes you think it won’t work well for you.  But that’s not true.  You are a different person – with a different body,  likes and dislikes, and lifestyle.  Many of these myths are told to us by people who care,  but unfortunately they may not know all the facts. Always get your sex information from a trained health educator or clinician.  Call and make an appointment at New Gen to get your questions answered.  Everything is free and confidential.

Myth #4:  “IUDs  (a method that is placed in the uterus) are only for older women or women who have children already.” 

Fact:  Again,  not true!  IUDs are great for young people.  I have one!  The best thing about IUDs is that they last for years.  They don’t require you to take a pill every day or get a shot every 3 months.  It’s really safe and effective,  not messy,  it is easy to use,  and it is something you don’t have to think about.  Seriously,  once it’s placed you almost forget you even have it!

Myth #5:  “Using birth control will make it harder to get pregnant later.”

Fact:  Not True.  Hormonal birth control works by stopping you from ovulating  (when the egg leaves the ovary).  When you stop using your birth control you start ovulating again.  That is why many women get pregnant right after using a birth control method.  That means that taking a “break” from your birth control also puts you at risk  (by the way,  the body does not need a “break” from birth control).  How many of you know someone who stopped taking the pill because they broke up with a boyfriend and then they got back together …just once…and they got pregnant… or they forgot to use a condom…just that one time?  It is very easy for young women to get pregnant;  birth control only works when you are using it.  That’s why you should be using a birth control method,  especially a long acting and reversible birth control method  (like an IUD, implant or Depo),  even if you are between partners or you are not having sex regularly.

In happiness & health,


Reviewed by Andrea Raider, NP