We Asked A Planned Parenthood Provider The Uncomfortable Questions So You Wouldn’t Have To

Planned Parenthood is a safe place for all people to ask questions about anything related to sexual health or the human body. Whatever the question might be, no matter how bizarre you might think it is, or how uncomfortable it makes you feel, a Planned Parenthood healthcare provider has heard it.

Even so, we know it can still be awkward asking, so we did it for you. We interviewed a Planned Parenthood medical assistant in Portland, Oregon and asked her 10 questions gathered from a variety of women. 

1. Why does it hurt so much while I have sex?

Many factors can be the cause of pain during sex. A vaginal infection that causes symptoms, such as irritation, swelling or burning can be [the] culprit to pain during sex. Lack of arousal can cause pain when there is no natural wetness or lubrication during intercourse. Sometimes the size of your partner, the anatomy of a woman or sexual position can cause pain if a woman’s cervix is getting bumped. It’s always a great idea to seek out the professional opinion of a healthcare provider in woman’s sexual and reproductive care.

2. How am I going to tell my partner I have herpes?

While it’s difficult to disclose such intimate information, it’s an important and necessary responsibility we must uphold to any potential sex partners. There’s no right way of doing it, but educating yourself about the virus and also speaking to a professional can help develop a platform for conversation. The more you know, the better prepared you are to take the right measures and precautions to be safe for you and your partner.

3. Did my partner give me my STI? Are they cheating on me?

STI stands for sexually transmitted infection, as in the infection being passed through intercourse by one infected partner to the other. If you and your partner were checked prior to entering a monogamous relationship [and] one or the other ends up with an STI, then chances are one of you has been unfaithful.

4. Do I need parental consent to get birth control?

You do not need parental consent to get birth control–at least in this state– [Oregon], but if a minor 12 and under discloses they are having sex, we are mandated to report it to the state.

5. Can I get pregnant on my period?

It [is] rare but it can happen depending on where in your cycle you are, or if you are near ovulation.

6. How do I know if I have a urinary tract infection a.k.a UTI?  

The most common symptoms of a UTI are burning, frequency, or difficulty with urination. Some other symptoms can be lower back pain in addition to the above [symptoms] or abdominal pain.

7. How often should I get checked for an STI?

It’s recommended to get checked for STIs with any new sexual partner or if you’re concerned of STI symptoms. It’s important to consider the incubation period for some STI tests, which can be further discussed with a healthcare professional.

8. What is a normal amount of discharge?

Discharge is a normal part of being a woman. Some may experience more than others, but knowing your body and what normal is and isn’t for you is important. Just like some women’s periods, discharge can be cyclical and more prominent during ovulation. Color is a major factor in knowing whether your discharge  is normal or a sign of infection. Yellow, greenish, or grayish discharge, accompanied by with a bad odor is not normal and should be evaluated with a woman’s health provider.

9. Does the “pull out” method work?

Unfortunately the “pull out” method is not the most reliable method in preventing pregnancy since it requires unwavering discipline and thrust in your partner. There’s also the idea that small accounts of pre-cum, therefor increasing the risk of an unintended pregnancy. The latter is rare, but understanding that no method, except abstinence, is 100% is important when you’re  considering withdrawal as your method. You and your partner should discuss the possibility of an unintended pregnancy with any method, and decide if it’s worth the risk.

10. What is the process of getting an abortion?

There are two abortion options, the medication abortion and the surgical or in-clinic abortion. Depending on the estimated gestation dating, or how many weeks you are into your pregnancy, will determine what option can be performed. For both options a urine test is performed to confirm pregnancy, as well as an ultrasound to verify that for the medication you’re 10 weeks or less, and for the surgical abortion you’re 13 weeks or less.

With both options a video explaining the process for either abortion is played for the patient, as well as counseling with a provider. The medication abortion initiates the abortion at an office visit with a single pill and 24 to 48 hours later the patient takes another set of pills to induce somewhat of a miscarriage at home. The surgical or in-clinic abortion is a longer process and day at [the] health center where they use a gentle suction, or vacuum aspiration, to remove the pregnancy.


Knowing about your body, sexual and overall health is so important. Keep in mind that health providers are most concerned about your well-being as well, and would rather you speak up and get the correct care than hold something in. Speak up and stay healthy!

 

Talullah Plummer-Blanco

Hey there! A little about me, I am a Portland, Oregon girl born and raised going to school in Southern California. I began my freshman year of college without a clue of what I wanted to do with my life. But then, one day a group of pro-life but more, anti Planned Parenthood protestors wandered onto my campus and were spewing incorrect information about Planned Parenthood and abortion. I had to write about it. Thus began my love for journalism!

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