In my experience, the first few trips to get contraception and protection from Family Planning or the doctor require a whole team of girls. Whoever isn’t scared of dialling the doctor’s office makes the call and books the appointment. Someone else invents a backstory, generally involving a long-term relationship to avoid any awkward questions about the lover in question. Another friend or even two attend the appointment as emotional support. There’s always a lot of giggling around the question, “How many condoms do you want?”
It is pretty entertaining to plan that (unnecessarily) elaborate process at lunchtime. But really, the anxiety-inducing fuss isn’t needed. The actual appointments are an anti-climax. All that anticipation and nervousness culminates in a 5-minute chat. Talk about the situation, answer the questions honestly, pick up your prescription. Hey presto! You’re ready to have safe sex!
Why did we make it so complicated? Because sex is new and nerve-wracking and confusing as a teenager. Talking to a doctor or a nurse about it in a one-on-one situation can seem terrifying. Until you realise that they’ve heard it all before. That awkward thing you think is the most mortifying thing to ever speak to a doctor about in the history of the universe? They’ve probably been asked the same question four times that morning.
Flash forward to now. Phone calls are a lot less scary. Yes, I want the full 144 condoms (they’re $5, why wouldn’t you?). I am honest with my health professionals, and talk to them about any problems I’m having with the contraception and protection I use. If I want something, I ask. The more information you give the doctor or nurse, the better your appointment will be.
We’re lucky to live in a country where a phone call is the most difficult part of accessing contraception. But the first appointment can seem scary – so here are a few tips to help it go smoothly and help to demystify the process.
It’s free (or cheap) - In New Zealand, some forms of contraception are free. You’ll have to pay a prescription fee, which is usually around $5-$10, but compared to buying condoms at the supermarket, it’s cheap as chips. Speaking of condoms, going to the doctors to get them is worth it. A $5 prescription fee will get you a decent (think 12 boxes) supply of Durex confidence.
No judgment - Medical professionals are not going to ask you unnecessary questions about your sex life and they’re not judging you. I remember hearing horror stories about pushy nurses asking for details about why you were sleeping with someone, but I haven’t met anyone who that’s actually happened to.
Confidential - Appointments about contraception and protection are confidential. The doctor or nurse won’t tell your family. If you visit Family Planning, it doesn’t even have to go through your family doctor.
Tell them everything - Be honest. The more you tell the doctor or nurse, the more they can help you. Any side effects you’re having with your current forms of contraception and/or protection should be discussed so that you can consider alternatives. You don’t to put up with side effects.
Support person - While bringing a support person to your appointment isn’t necessary, if you’re feeling nervous it could help. Anything, or anyone, you need in order to feel comfortable during your appointment is a good idea.
Sex is great, unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections are less so. Going to a doctor or a health nurse to get contraception and protection can seem scary, but it doesn’t have to be. There’s no reason to be scared; medical professionals are there to help you be sexually healthy.Support Villainesse