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Between the controversial videos released in 2015 and the recent political election, Planned Parenthood can never seem to stay out of the spotlight. Whether for it’s progressive care in women’s health, or the protests against having federal funding, there’s always something going on. I recently went to a Planned Parenthood over the holiday break for my annual STD testing, and it was one of the most wonderful experiences I have ever had.
The first thing I enjoyed was the simplicity of making an appointment at PP. There was no calling necessary, and no medical forms that had to be transferred from my family physician. All I had to do was go online and set up a portal account. I was able to pick a time I wanted to come in, input my insurance information, and was soon ready to go. I even made an appointment for one of my friends through my account without a problem. This was a really great feature. A couple of friends and I then ventured out to the nearest Planned Parenthood to where I live in Maine, which happened to be in Topsham.
Just like typical Maine aesthetic, the outside of the PP was quaint and cute, made to look like the rest of the nearby buildings, while also fitting into the theme Maine has to offer. It was even located next to a coffee shop that showcased local artwork. When walking in, the room was clean, quiet, and felt peaceful. We checked in at the front desk, filled out typical paperwork, and sat back down to wait our turn. The stunning feature of the lobby, however, was a bowl of condoms sitting on one of the tables. They were assorted, covered in cute imagery, and free for the taking. I took a handful. The monsters were my favorite.
I was the first up and was escorted to a back room. The nurse introduced herself, we ran through the casual doctor’s office measurements like height and weight, and then sat on a table together. She had a whole list of questions to ask. The first question was my pronouns, and I was pleasantly surprised (which are she/her, if anyone was wondering). We ran through a bunch of things related to prior health experience, family, relationships, abuse, sex work, and sexual history. No topic was left unturned as we went over the front and backside of the paper. There was genuine care in the sound of her voice, no matter what an answer was, the nurse would care. It also helped that on the walls were sex positive and inclusive posters.
At the end of the questions, I spoke with the doctor at the facility. She asked if we talk could about weight instead of jumping into it; the consideration was thoughtful. She offered me more than just a basic STD test (peeing in a cup), along with telling me the prices when I inquired. I got tested for HIV as well (finger prick), and syphilis (blood draw). When I mentioned I was nervous about needles, she did the blood draw herself instead of sending the nurse back in to make sure I was comfortable. I was surprised at how well I handled the situation. It was over and done with in no time, and while it hurt it wasn’t that bad. I can chalk it up as one of the most pleasant blood drawing experiences I have ever had.
When everything was done and I was bandaged up, my friends were waiting for me in the lobby. At the checkout, I was told that I didn’t owe anything, but I could make a donation if I would like. I thanked them, politely declined the donation in anticipation of waiting until I had more money to do it online later, and left feeling happy, successful, ready to take on my day, and with a purse full of condoms.