A Comprehensive Guide to Planned Parenthood

Women’s rights is one of the many sociopolitical issues that divides the United States a million different ways, as each individual holds their own opinion about what true equality and equity looks like for the female gender. As no social media user is a stranger to women’s rights advocacy these days, you’ve probably come across the mentioning of Planned Parenthood amidst your scrolling and browsing—that is, America’s leading nonprofit in providing a wide range of reproductive health care across 49 locally-governed affiliates and 600 health centers. While trying to educate, engage, and act in the new name of women’s rights conversations across the country, Planned Parenthood “delivers vital reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of women, men, and young people worldwide," as eloquently put by their mission statement. 

So, what are some examples of what they do, and how can they help you? Well, what actually happens within the walls of any given Planned Parenthood clinic may surprise you (and hopefully inform you).

A common misconception that surrounds and bestows controversy on the Planned Parenthood organization is that they solely offer abortion services. While this is a crucial service that provides a safe option for women who aren't ready for the life changes that pregnancy brings for whatever reason, this generalization isn’t the least bit accurate—in fact, abortion services only encapsulate a small percentage of the services they offer to their patients on any given day. While Planned Parenthood offers two options of abortion services, their highly-trained medical professionals are also available to answer your questions and offer you information about your options in a non-judgmental environment. If you need additional support outside of the Clinic and personal connections in your life, All-Options is a free hotline that provides you with a confidential space to talk about your situation if necessary. Whatever road you decide to take, the decision is yours and yours only, and Planned Parenthood aims to support that belief. (Note: not all Planned Parenthood clinics offer abortion services, so check their location finder to find the closest provider near you.)

Another popular service Planned Parenthood offers, especially relevant and worthy for college women to consider, is accurate information and supply of birth control options for all genders. As the nonprofit provided reversible contraception services to nearly 1.9 million patients in 2019, you’re bound to find the perfect option in your search for what’s best for you, and your provider will help you take into account your desired factors, such as what’s best at preventing pregnancy, what’s easiest to use, what may help with periods, or what’s likely to prevent STDs. (P.S.—if you’ve been considering the pill at all for your form of contraceptive, check out my article on it.)

Speaking of STDs, in the unexpected situation you become infected with one, Planned Parenthood is yet again your trusted confidant. While they offer tests for the many STIs you’ve probably heard of, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, HIV/AIDS, and many others, the clinic you visit is simultaneously armed and ready to provide with the resources on treatment, prevention, and discussion about safe sex between you and your partner. Even if you’re unsure or nervous about the results of your visit, just remember that 5.4 million people took that same leap of faith with Planned Parenthood in 2019, in the name of their good state of health. Rest assured, stigma can and will be put aside by your provider here. 

It’s possible that the three categories of service I mentioned don’t fit any of your current medical wants or needs, which is totally okay, too—at Planned Parenthood, you’re more than likely to find a service that can help you out. Depending on the clinic, you’re likely to find support in a wide array of other areas, such as emergency contraception, LGBTQ services and hormone therapies for transgender patients, infertility treatment, breast exam and mammogram referrals, UTI testing and treatment, cancer screenings, and perhaps too many others to talk about in just one article. And just for the guys, let me not forget to mention that Planned Parenthood serves both genders—men’s health services made up about 320 thousand of their patients in 2019. News flash: we all have a right to our own reproductive health decisions, regardless of gender.

Lastly, if you’d prefer to have access to the many wonderful services Planned Parenthood provides from the comfort of your own home, you’re in luck there, too. Check out their app, which makes it a piece of cake to schedule either a telehealth or in-person appointment that suits your needs, and Spot Ontheir accurate period tracker app. If you just need some casual assistance, feel free to use their chat tool, Rooto connect with a health educator online, free and confidential. If you’re interested in learning more about the topics I covered, as well as the equally important topics that I didn’t touch on that are instrumental in women’s health, their website is an extremely valuable resource for all of your sexual and reproductive health questions, as well as a great place to find your own way of becoming involved in their causes along with their 16 million supporters. In the name of social justice, don't be afraid to volunteer, educate, and advocate.