Planned Parenthood

West and Northern Michigan

Best Kept Secrets

These are some of the Best Kept Secrets about Planned Parenthood of West and Northern Michigan. Please "Psst...Pass It On!" to those you love by sharing this page (share options are posted at bottom of page).


Best Kept Secret: PPWNM thanks everyone who followed our Best Kept Secrets campaign over the past few months, shared information, or accessed our special offers for free birth control or $50 STD testing at one of our eight health centers. Due to the response to this campaign and the needs in the communities that we serve, we are ending our campaign with one final Best Kept Secret: our $50 STD testing package is now a standard offer at PPWNM! New or current clients can receive chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV screening for just $50 for all three tests, any time during regular business hours at any PPWNM location. Call ahead for an appointment or take advantage of walk-in hours at several of our locations. The entire process takes just 1-1.5 hours.

One in two sexually active young people will contract an STD (sexually transmitted disease) by age 25. When left untreated, STDs can lead to certain types of cancer and infertility. Some STDs are even deadly.

Many times, STDs do not have visible symptoms so people do not even know they are infected and risk passing their disease onto their partners. If you are sexually active, getting tested for STDs should quite likely be a part of your regular sexual health maintenance plan. But your clinician can help you decide for sure if you should be tested for STDs.

Learn more: STD testing package, PPWNM health centers

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Best Kept Secret: the only way to know for sure if you have an STD (sexually transmitted disease) is to Get Yourself Tested - GYT. One in two sexually active young people will have an STD by age 25, and most won't know it. That's why testing is so important to staying healthy and safe when you are sexually active.

April is GYT month and each year Planned Parenthood joins the nationwide effort to encourage young people to get tested. This year's theme is Know Yourself, Know Your Status. It can be hard to know whether or not you have an STD: most of the time there are no visible symptoms, even when you (or your partner) are infected and able to pass the disease on to others.

We know it can be a scary or embarrassing step to take - to GYT - but at Planned Parenthood we're here to make it as easy as possible for you to get tested. PPWNM offers testing for men and women of all ages for the most common STDs. You can call and ask for an appointment for STD testing, and when you come in to Planned Parenthood your health care provider can help you figure out what tests are right for you.

During April, PPWNM is offering a $50 testing package for three STDs: chlamydia, gonorrhea and HIV. Chlamydia and gonorrhea are two common STDs. They are bacterial infections that are also easily curable through the use of oral antibiotics. HIV is more rare, but can also be more devastating: it is the virus that causes AIDS, and there is no known cure.

Expect to be at your appointment about an hour or a little longer. Part of the time you'll be filling out paperwork and part of the time you'll be answering some questions about your health and sex life - it's important to be honest with your clinician so she can help you make the best decisions.

"We are experienced at dealing with all kinds of different feelings, emotions, concerns; and private, personal parts of your life," says PPWNM's Nurse Sherry. "This is a safe and confidential environment. We'll give you honest answers to your questions without judgment - after 34 years I'm still hearing new things! I live in a small community and I wouldn't have been able to do this work for this long if people didn't feel like they could trust me."

The tests themselves are the easy part - urine testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea, and a tiny finger poke for HIV. Your HIV results are back in just 20 minutes, while you'll have to wait about two days to get the results from your other tests.

"Once we know your results, we can help you take control of your health, including treating an STD if necessary, and working on a plan for the future that includes prevention, protection, and possibly even behavior modification. Sometimes testing can be that first step in getting people to take a more mature approach to their sexual health," says Nurse Sherry.

Learn more: Visit the GYT website for everything you event wanted to know (and more!) about STDs and testing. Take the first step to get to "Know Yourself, Know Your Status" and know for sure that you are healthy and safe!

Psst...Pass it on!


Best Kept Secret: Planned Parenthood of West and Northern Michigan (PPWNM) is accepting new clients and we welcome and work with people of all income levels to make their health care affordable. While other providers may have limits or are unable to accept new patients, our doors are open to all at PPWNM. Just call to make an appointment, or even take advantage of walk-in hours at some of our health centers.

Maybe you have never considered yourself, or some of your friends and loved ones, as potential Planned Parenthood clients. But with so many people struggling with lack of or loss of health insurance, Planned Parenthood offers a solution to people who have given up on trying to afford traditional medical services.

PPWNM offers annual physical exams for men, women and teens, also known as wellness exams or "check-ups." This is an opportunity to meet one-one-one with a trusted health care professional at least once a year to ensure that you are on the right track for staying healthy. Just like the exam you would receive at any medical office, this annual physical is often a first step in diagnosing more serious health problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer.

During your exam, your clinician can also help you determine if you should be tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Through the month of April, PPWNM is offering screening for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and HIV/AIDS for just $50 for all three tests (and you may qualify for funding that makes the cost even less).

AND FOR LADIES ONLY: Now is also a great time to become a new PPWNM client if you are considering birth control. New clients who visit us between now and April 30 can try one of four hormonal methods of birth control FREE for one month. You can count on our clinicians to help you choose the best method for you.

Learn more: PPWNM Health Centers, $50 STD screening offer, Free birth control offer

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Best Kept Secret: what about the ring? The vaginal contraceptive ring, NuvaRing, is a hormonal method of birth control that you place inside your vagina. You wear the ring for three weeks and take it out for one week while you should be having your period, then you put in a new ring.

The ring is flexible and about 2 inches around. It releases progestin and estrogen to stop the ovaries from releasing eggs in most women; and also thickens the cervical mucus to keep sperm from reaching any released eggs. Out of 100 women using this method, about five per year may become pregnant.

Because the ring contains hormones, possible side effects are similar to those of birth control pills. Some side effects can be serious, even fatal, but cases are rare. And because you insert the ring into the vagina, additional side effects can include vaginal irritation, swelling, and discharge.

If the ring falls out and stays out for more than 3 hours, you need to use another kind of birth control method until the ring has been used for 7 days in a row.

New clients to PPWNM can try out the birth control NuvaRing FREE before April 30, 2012! Just call any PPWNM health center and ask about our Free Birth Control offer.

Planned Parenthood can help you find methods of birth control which might be right for you, even before you walk into the doors of one of our health centers. Check out My Method, which asks you a few simple questions, and then suggests birth control options that fit with your lifestyle.

Learn more: NuvaRing, My Method

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Best Kept Secret:
the birth control patch - is it right for you? If you are one of those people who can never remember to take your birth control pill on time, maybe you would like "the patch." Introduced in the early 2000s, this hormonal method of birth control containing progestin and estrogen is available by prescription only. It's an actual patch that you stick to your lower abdomen, buttocks, or upper body. You put on a new patch once a week for three weeks and then you don't wear one during the fourth week, when you should have your period.

The hormones found in the patch - estrogen and progestin - prevent against unintended pregnancy by stopping the ovaries from releasing eggs in most women. These hormones also thicken the cervical mucus, which keeps the sperm from joining with an egg that may be released. The patch is about 95 percent effective at preventing pregnancy; however, a word of caution: it does appear to be less effective in women who weigh more than 198 pounds.

Possible side effects of the patch are similar to those of birth control pills. Some side effects can be serious, even fatal, but cases are rare.

New clients to PPWNM can try out the birth control patch FREE before April 30, 2012! Just call any PPWNM health center and ask about our Free Birth Control offer.

Learn more about the patch and potential side effects.

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Best Kept Secret:There IS funding help available for birth control. While some lawmakers are trying to block the plan to offer contraception without co-pays to everyone under the Affordable Care Act, we at Planned Parenthood have been working all along to provide our clients with the most cost-effective contraception possible. It's one of those things that we just do automatically at PPWNM work with each and every one of our clients to find the available funding to make their care affordable.

Make no mistake, PPWNM does not have the capacity to offer FREE birth control. But we are able to find funding assistance for more than 80 percent of our clients. The funding programs that PPWNM offers include Medicaid, Plan First for women ages 19-44, and Title X for teens.

The amount of assistance is based on a client's income; so some clients do qualify for free care and those who don't are charged on a sliding scale based on how much money they earn. We always ask clients to make a donation, if possible, to help us keep costs down for everyone; and many clients gladly pass along a few extra dollars, commenting about how grateful they are for the excellent care they received, or how wonderful their nurse was.

People often don't realize that PPWNM also accepts most health insurance plans that cover birth control. Even women with insurance will choose Planned Parenthood for their sexual health services, knowing they can avoid the awkwardness of some traditional doctors' offices and get frank but compassionate answers to even their most embarrassing questions by experts who focus on nothing but sexual health, all day, every day.

If you come to PPWNM before April 30 and do not qualify for any funding programs, you can still receive one free month of birth control under our two special offers promotion going on now. And, there is one method of birth control that's always free at PPWNM: condoms! Get three free a day at any of our health centers just walk in and ask! After that, they're only 25-cents each. What a bargain!

Learn more: Medicaid, Plan First, Title X

Psst...Pass it on!


Best Kept Secret: A clinical breast exam can save your life. The risk of developing breast cancer increases with age. But young women are not immune more than 11,000 women under age 40 develop breast cancer each year. Since the American Cancer Society recommends that women receive annual mammograms beginning at age 40; women under age 40 generally rely on clinical breast exams and breast self exams for detecting breast cancer early. And early detection saves lives! More than 90 percent of victims will survive at least five years if their breast cancer is detected in its early stages.

Planned Parenthood doctors and nurses teach patients about breast care and self exam. Our experts in women's health perform critical clinical breast exams as part of their patients' annual physical exams, looking for lumps or other changes that could indicate a potential problem. If something unusual is detected, patients are connected to resources to help them get vital biopsies, ultrasounds, and mammograms; and Planned Parenthood follows up to make sure these patients are cared for with the attention they need and deserve.

Aside from non-melanoma skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the U.S. One in eight women will develop it in her lifetime. Breast cancer is also one of the leading causes of cancer death among women. About 225,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year in the U.S. and 40,000 women will die from it. Talk to your Planned Parenthood clinician or other health provider if you are concerned about your risk for breast cancer, or find a lump in your breast during self exam.

Learn more: American Cancer Society, breast exams

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Best Kept Secret:
STDs are on the rise! Half of all sexually active young people will have an STD (sexually transmitted disease) by age 25. What's more, STDs are also climbing faster among the over-age-55 crowd than within the population as a whole.

Since many STDs don't show any symptoms, protection and prevention are your best defenses if you are sexually active. That means getting tested so you know your STD status, and making sure your partner gets tested (one in three people will lie and say they do not have an STD when they know that they do, just to have sex). It also means using a condom when you have sex to provide a physical barrier between you and potential disease.

Chlamydia and gonorrhea are among the most common infections spread through sexual contact. In 2010, nearly a million-and-a-half cases of Chlamydia were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the largest number of cases ever reported to CDC for any condition. Gonorrhea cases jumped nearly three percent from 2009 to 2010, to more than 300,000.

These infections often have no symptoms; but if left unchecked, they can do serious damage to your body. Chlamydia and gonorrhea are pretty easily spread through sexual contact, but the best kept secret may be that they are also easily treated once discovered.


If you think you need to be tested, PPWNM is offering a $50 Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV screening package to all new and current clients through April 30, 2012.

Learn more: Chlamydia, gonorrhea, safer sex

Psst...Pass it on!


Best Kept Secret:
Birth control that you only "take" four times per year! You've probably heard about Depo-Provera (Depo), the birth control shot. But have you seriously considered it as a method for you? No more pills to swallow, fewer visits to the doctor or pharmacy, nothing to insert or remove these and other benefits make Depo the favorite choice for lots of women.

Depo is an injection into the arm, which provides birth control for 12 weeks. This safe and effective, FDA-approved method of birth control releases a hormone progestin into the body, and works similarly to other hormonal methods of birth control to prevent pregnancy.

The birth control shot is one of the most effective methods available. Less than 1 out of 100 women will get pregnant each year if they always use the birth control shot as directed. About 6 out of 100 women will get pregnant each year if they don't always use the birth control shot as directed.

New clients to PPWNM can try out the birth control shot FREE before April 30, 2012! Just call any PPWNM health center and ask about our Free Birth Control offer.

Make no mistake,there can be side effects, ranging from mild to severe, which may not make Depo the best choice for you. The highly trained and skilled health care providers at Planned Parenthood are always ready to help you find the best method of birth control for YOU.

Learn more about Depo benefits, side effects, and exactly how it works.

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Best Kept Secret:
Celebrating the condom! This front-line warrior in the battle for your sexual health often gets a "bad wrap." Of all the tools in our sexual health toolkits, what else puts itself out there literally as a physical barrier between you and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), AND between you and unintended pregnancy?

Valentine's Day makes February the "month for lovers," and not so coincidentally, it's also National Condom Month. What better time to celebrate all things condom, and spread the word about this mighty, ancient soldier in the fight against STDs and unintended pregnancy?

A history that stretches back centuries:
Condoms were reportedly used by the Egyptians in 1350 B.C. The earliest evidence of condom use in Europe come from scenes in cave paintings in Combarelles, France, dated 100-200 A.D. Throughout time, condoms have been made from animal skins, bladders, and intestines; linen, leather, and of course, rubber. Nowadays, the vast majority of condoms are made from latex, but there non-latex options for those with allergies. (source: lovepanky.com)

So do they really work?
Like all birth control methods, condoms are more effective when you use them correctly. Each year, two out of 100 women become pregnant among those who always use condoms correctly; but 18 out of 100 women become pregnant among those who don't always use condoms correctly.

If you have a condom mishap (the condom breaks or comes off during sex) you can take Emergency Contraception within five days to prevent unintended pregnancy. It's available at Planned Parenthood and you can purchase it in advance so you have it around, just in case.

When it comes to STDs, condoms prevent skin-to-skin contact, helping prevent against the spread of STDs. But it is still possible to spread STDs that are occurring outside the protected area.

Think condoms aren't for you?
They come in all kinds of shapes, colors, sizes, and fits. You and your partner can have fun exploring different brands and types until you find ones that work for you.

And, the Best Kept Secret of all? Planned Parenthood of West and Northern Michigan locations offer THREE FREE CONDOMS A DAY, every day, to clients and non-clients alike, during regular business hours. Just stop in and ask. Want more than three? They're only 25-cents each.

More info: condom facts, female condoms, safer sex

Psst...Pass it on!


Best Kept Secret:
There ARE steps women can take to avoid the "silent killer" that claims 4,000 American women's lives each year. Cervical cancer usually shows very few symptoms until it has progressed. But when caught early, the five-year survival rate is nearly 100 percent. Annual Pap tests can help with early detection, and the HPV vaccine can protect against most cervical cancers in the first place.

Every year about 13,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with cervical cancer. Because they are less likely to have access to early screening and treatment, Latinas and black women are more likely to develop and die of cervical cancer. Worldwide, cervical cancer is the third most common cancer among women and the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths among women. Regular cervical cancer screenings (Pap tests) and preventive care such as the HPV vaccine are the keys to combating cervical cancer.

PPWNM offers annual Paps, and the HPV vaccine (for women ages 18-26). We also have funding programs that may help you cover the costs.

Learn more: National Cervical Cancer Coalition, HPV, HPV Vaccine

Psst...Pass it on!


Psst...Pass It On:
Thank you for being a friend to Planned Parenthood! In 2011, our successful "I Stand with Planned Parenthood" campaign showed us just how many people support our quality health care and services.

In 2012, we are showing our appreciation for that support with two special offers from Planned Parenthood of West and Northern Michigan (PPWNM). From now through April 30, 2012:
1. New clients to PPWNM can receive one month of FREE BIRTH CONTROL (pills, patch, ring, or shot).
2. New or existing clients can receive a STD (sexually transmitted disease) testing package (chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV) for $50.

For too many people, sexual health remains a secret: something talked about in hushed tones, rumors passed along through word-of-mouth. We know there are many people in need of our services and for some it's just a matter of discovering that we are here for them.

So in 2012 we are shouting it from the rooftops: WE ARE HERE for you, your loved ones, neighbors, and friends; providing affordable services and professional, private care. And we're not just shouting it we're showing it with these two special offers.

Recent attacks against Planned Parenthood have been based on misinformation or a lack of understanding about what we do. So we are determined to share some of the Best Kept Secrets about Planned Parenthood in 2012, starting with these two special offers. Our Best Kept Secrets campaign is designed to shred the myths and spread reliable, useful information.

Please join us in passing along these two special offers, as well as the other tips and resources on this page, that you and your friends can use to stay sexually healthy and safe in the New Year. Using the links on the left, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, then share our Best Kept Secrets posts or tweets with your friends and followers. You can also share the information directly from this web page by using the share function. 

To our many,valued friends of Planned Parenthood who "Stood for Us" in 2011, will you "Speak for Us" in 2012, sharing the word that WE ARE HERE for people you know who need our services?

They will thank you, and so do we!

Psst...Pass It On!

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Best Kept Secrets