How have your experiences been with sexual/reproductive healthcare?

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I'd love to see a lot of comments with this poll from you all, talking about what has been part of your experiences with sexual healthcare. That'd include things like if you felt respected, if providers were professional, if all services were accessible to you, if you got what you needed per both information and actual care, etc.

Editor & Founder, Scarleteen: Sex Ed for the Real World
Author, S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-to-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and Col

There was only one local family planing clinic, only open on Monday 3pm-4pm, which meant skipping school to attend, plus you'd have to sit on nursery seats rather than adult seats. I've only needed EC once, the clinic doctor insisted it was my fault the condom broke (the fault was the cheap condoms they gave us) so she lectured me. They gave out free condoms, I insisted they didn't give me the cheap condoms, I also used it like a pick n mix - "I'll have three extra safe, two strawberry flavoured...OH! and two 'for MY pleasure' *wink*" - oh, the evil looks the nurses gave me!!

When I stopped hormonal BC nurses looked at me like I had two heads, one doctor told me I had to use the pill or the IUD (which he said would leave me infertile), another doctor found out I was using FAM so shouted that I was 'a silly little girl who is going to get pregnant' and refused treatment for menstrual problems as I wouldn't use the pill to 'fix them'. I went for a IUD to avoid so much hassle, but they tried to insert a hormonal IUD knowing I wanted copper, and made a point to ignore me through the whole insertion. I also had a nurse tell me I was dirty for using a menstrual cup.

They seemed to think as I was young I didn't know enough to make my own choices, they were ignorant about different BC options and showed me no respect, visits about sexual health issues used to leave me petrified of going back and I'd constantly break down in tears after visits.

It's not all bad though, I found a GUM clinic in the city, they are excellent! As well as great at their job, I was being abused when I first started attending, they noticed I kept coming in with 'damage' and self-harm scars. They took me into a room with two staff, I wasn't able to talk about it then, but I appreciate that they tried. I've also got a great new doctor who's great, she respects all my choices so works with me, not against me.

Health care providers always assume I'm heterosexual. Questions about "sexual partners" and "sex" always assume men and penises. When I want to discuss questions about sex between female bodied people I always feel like they're humoring me because that's not "real sex." They don't seem to know anything about the range of sexual activities that female bodies might engage in. They can't answer questions about fisting. When they suggest abstaining from "sex" before a procedure or for some other medical reason, they seem unable to understand the question "what do you mean by sex?"

This is SUCH a common (and infuriating) problem.

I want to be sure you know about the GLMA:

You can search form an LGBT-friendly provider there (in the US), and there are also some publications which can be handy to direct problematic providers to, or even print out and have with you.

Editor & Founder, Scarleteen: Sex Ed for the Real World
Author, S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-to-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and Col

I've generally had good experiences and I love both of the women that eventually became my primary OBGYNs. I've had a few bad/amusing experiences.
Example: "So are you sexually active?"
Me: "Yes."
"And what do you use for birth control?"
Me: "I don't"
"Do you want to get pregnant?"
Me: "If she could get me pregnant, I'm sure science would be interested."

I think the worst experience I had was when I was bleeding full on period-like length and heaviness every two weeks for eight weeks after using Plan B. I made an appointment to check on things and the lady said that "spotting was normal after using Plan B." When I explained that I was aware of that, but this wasn't spotting this was heavier than my usual periods. She then preceded to talk really slowly and define the word abnormal to me. Like I was an idiot. It still makes me angry just thinking about it.

I also had a lot of trouble convincing doctors that they should give me an IUD because I was unmarried and actively non-monogamous. But I did prevail in that eventually, it's just dumb that I had several that wouldn't even talk to me about it because I wasn't married before we even got into the monogamy vs. non monogamy discussion.

Comments about same-sex couples reminds me of an experience I once had with a nurse;

The nurse asked me if I was heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual [great, they at least acknowledge we're not all heterosexual], to which I responded 'non of the above' - this was me being awkward, but I had a point. I considered myself asexual at the time, I had had sex with men but had also been sexually active with women, which could be counted as sex. Now THIS was difficult to explain, the difference between sexuality and sexual activity, defining what counts as sex between two females.

The nurse really did not understand this nor did she get why I was making a point of it, so I eventually just said 'Well, if it makes it easier, I've only had intercourse with men', her response then was to slowly, loudly and clearly explain to me 'When a girl has sex with a boy, that is what is called HET-ER-O-SEX-U-AL, you are a het-er-o-sex-u-al'. I was being a smart so-and-so, but still I wasn't an imbecile, I was making a point.

I guess it is important to know what sort of sexual activities a person has been involved in, however sexuality is too complex to pin-down like that, I can imagine it being difficult for people with different sexualities, gender identity, etc.

Just another thing to add to the heteronormativity of health care. When first meeting with my doctor, one of the questions was are you sexually active.

Ok, that's an alright question. Next-male or female partner? She could only click one.

I haven't had a sexual health checkup since first becoming sexually active (he and I are getting our STI screenings tomorrow, though!), but I've had pap smears, and been on the pill for a little while now. MY GP/OBGYN is fantastic. She asked me about my sexual history in such a way that allowed me to define it, and my orientation, in my own words. Since I identify as bisexual, but haven't had sex with women, I really appreciated the open-endedness of her questioning. She spoke to me like she assumed I knew what she was talking about, but left room for me to ask questions. She was also very responsive to my anxiety when performing my pap smears and talked to me the whole time. She told me exactly what she was doing and even got another speculum when I was too anxious to relax so she could insert the first one fully.

I am a heterosexual female in a long-term relationship. My partner and I have decided to have children. When I went to interview a male OBGYN, he lectured me about the importance of having episiotomies during delivery. In this man's opinion, it is important not only to prevent painful tearing during delivery, but because it makes it easier for him to sow up my vagina "an extra stitch or two" to please my husband. I was so angry it was all I could do to walk out of the office without causing him physical injury. I reported him to the Board, but he is still in practice.

Over the past decade, since I started menstruating, I've been having extremely painful periods. (I didn't always know they were abnormal; I figured that out over time. I did, however, always know they were bad.) And for most of that decade, I've been complaining to health care providers that this was not acceptable to me.

Now, having been formally diagnosed with endometriosis, I know that I was right in being persistent. (And really, even without a formal diagnosis -- if the pain was real to me, I was right in seeking treatment regardless.) But since I only had a doctor take me seriously *this year*, I also think I should have been evaluated long ago.

Instead what I got was a number of health care providers saying things like, "Cramps are normal in teenagers." "After you have your first baby, you won't feel them anymore." "If you exercised more, your cramps would go away." "You don't feel these anymore: you're on the pill." "90% of pain is mental: maybe you don't hurt as much as you think you do." Etc.

And I am just... not okay with that.

I guess in my few experiences with sexual/reproductive healthcare, the common denominator is that the providers were narrow minded in how they viewed sex and sexuality. They weren't trying to be judgmental or anything, more just oblivious to other ways of thinking or that I could really know my own body well.

The first encounter was when my period was very late (highly unusual for me) so I called my college's health center to ask if I should be concerned. I told them that it was abnormally late and that I knew that I wasn't pregnant. First she was skeptical that I could really know that my period was 12 days late. It took quite an argument to convince her that I am knowledgable and competent in tracking my cycles. Then she didn't believe that I wasn't pregnant. She kept asking if I had taken a pregnancy test (I kept answering no) and would say that was the next step, I needed to come in and take a test. It took great patience to inform her that I was sure I wasn't pregnant because I hadn't had sex with a guy, therefore no test was necessary. She went silent on the other end of the line like it never had occured to her that a college student wouldn't be having unprotected sex with men. In the end, her "healthcare" was that I should wait a few more days to see if my period started and call back if it hadn't.

My other experiences have been when going for an annual gyno exam, again at the college health center (which by the way consistently ranks highly when rated about sexual healthcare). They always ask if I am sexually active, and a yes answer leads to questions about birth control, so the assumption is that I am straight. I struggle to answer the question, because 1) I'm a lesbian and 2) despite not engaging in partnered sex, I consider myself very sexually active. Of course this makes absolutely no sense to the providers so I end up saying that I am not sexually active because it is easier. I think this is unfortunate because it doesn't acknowledge my experience and eliminates the possibility of discussing safer sex practices that are relevant to everyone, straight or not.

My first gyno failed to ask me if I was sexually active. I was so nervous about the visit and she wasn't making me feel comfortable so I couldn't bring myself to tell her I'd been having sex for months (while I do not think sex is wrong at all, I have had a rough time letting go of the perspectives presented to me as a child). I had some very real concerns about how things were going as well but in the end I cried as soon as she left the room and continued to the rest of the day because I felt violated and like the experience was a waste.

That said, I have since had a great discussion with a nurse practitioner at my university. She was helpful and let me be open and had a real conversation with me about everything I was worried about. I voted "bad" but this experience was definitely "excellent".

I went in for my annual reproductive health check up with my GP rather than a gyno because the wait for a gyno was somewhere around 6 weeks for a regular checkup and my BC prescription ran out before that. She was rough with me, disregarded my physical pain during the pap smear procedure (which I had never had with a gyno) and when I asked for the generic brand of BC that I could buy for $12 for 3 months instead of $70 she said she didn't think they made generic BC.

I realize this happened mostly because I went to my GP rather than a gyno, but my health plan made it hard for me to get into one in a timely manner. And hell, a GP can do this too, she should have done a better job and been more personable.

The times I was able to get into the gyno it was generally a positive experience but i still remember the bad visit most because it made me feel devalued as a person.

I'm a very private person by nature, so when I had to get a physical for marching band this year, I was not thrilled, seeing as I hadn't had a physical since the fifth grade. My mother and I both came to the agreement though that since I was going to a children's doctors office that it was innapropriate to have a pelvic exam, since they wouldnt really know better there. So we get there, and the two nurses who did my blood pressure and stuff were extremely kind and very caring, but then this nurse practioner came, and she was torment. My mother told her that she did not want me getting a pelvic exam, and she had a hissy fit. Once my mother left the room to go with my sister, the woman started off on asking about drugs. I told her "theres a lot of that at my school, but i dont do any of it" and she sat there and insisted I come up with something to say if someone asked me to do drugs. I'm really not that stupid that I'd do drugs, so I let it slide. Then she asked if I have a boyfriend, and when I told her I didnt, she was like shocked and appauled, and gave me a speech about how I should have a planned thing in my head if I decide to have sex with someone, which is against my religion to do before marriage. And, to put the icing on the cake, i dont have a boyfriend, but I do have a girlfriend. Then, she had to check some kind of arteries in my waist, which i was ok with, as long as she promised to not be looking where she shouldnt be. Well, she didnt listen to me, because then she was like "have you considered bikini waxing?" I told her I'm not interested, and she said "oh, you will be when you get a boyfriend". I left her office in tears and felt utterly violated. I even told my mom, but she said I was overreacting.

I live in Vancouver, BC, Canada, and I use the youth clinics that are provided by Vancouver Coastal Health for everything that I need: advice, pap tests, condoms, lube, and my choice of many kinds of birth control.
It is free if I am under 19 (STD testing free until 21), and confidential. They keep their own records, but it is not shared with other medical facilities. I even once tried to have it put on my real medical history, in case it ever needed to be there, and they refused. Although a bit annoying, I think that is a good sign for their attitudes - most girls who go there are terrified of their parents finding out, so absolute confidentiality is a huge relief for them.

The clinic is held at a local community centre, and there are at least three others in North and West Vancouver. The clinic has comfortable seating in a private area of the building, dozens of pamphlets about common STIs, emergency contraception, female condoms, etc. There is also a box stuffed to the brim with condoms. There is lubricated, unlubricated, and 'single-serve' sachets of lube. The condoms are only Durex; I have not seen any other kind there. Which I think is great, because Durex is a highly respected brand, and I have never had defects in them, any breakages were due to error on my part. Girls are free to take as many as their pride can get away with.

The clinic is open once a week - Monday, 3-5pm, so you can get there right after school, and you can always tell your parents you're "doing your homework in the library" or visiting the local market/cafe/etc (very centrally located - also right next to the bus loop!). There is usually two/three nurses and one doctor available; the nurses field most cases, and the doctor takes more specific/serious issues, pap tests, etc. The wait is short if you get there right when it opens; if not, you will have to wait, perhaps an hour. However, you probably average a trip there once every 3 or 6 months, so that is a small price to pay.
I'd like to start here with how fantastic the nurses are. They are so sex-positive I could hug them. They can be jokey, they can be serious, but always friendly and accessible. I recently visited and one of the older nurses made quite a cheeky comment about my boyfriend's talent in bed with a wink ;) When they ask how long you've been with your partner, and you say you've been dating your boyfriend for x months, there's always an 'aww' and a friendly comment/joke - they at least sincerely ask how you guys are doing, if he's cute, etc. Most of the girls who go have not been in many open environments when it comes to sex, I think, and they are quite closed up about it, so the attitudes of the nurses make a huge difference. And, like I said, super sex-positive. Abstinence isn't one of the listed forms of birth control; none of them will tell you about abstinence voluntarily and even if you brought it up, they would probably try and persuade you to at least take home some condoms, just in case. They understand that teenagers who are willingly to step out of their comfort zone enough to visit the youth clinic don't want to hear a lecture, they want the goods and to vanish before anyone they know sees them.

The doctor is also great. I had to go in for a pap test; she was chatty, friendly, and explained anything that was necessary. Not uncomfortable and stiff, just lovely.

Both the nurses and the doctor really listen to what you're saying; you're an individual there and they respect that your situation is different to every other girl. They tailor to you, which I really, really appreciate. When I mention that something is wrong, even if it's little, when we've had our chat they remember to give me anything I might need for it.

As for the medication they provide, they provide at least three or four different kids of hormonal pill - although I think it is about five they have on hand. All are of varying levels and they know each type thoroughly. They also offer a patch, if you won't remember a daily pill, and they may offer more kinds, I simply don't know. The pill is great for me, so I stick to that. For the first few months, they only give you two months worth of pills at a time, so you can come back and they can check up on you, but after that, they give you six months worth so you don't have to visit much. Each nurse and doctor has their own stocked, private room, too, so you can freely express any concerns. Each room also has another box of condoms and lube, along with boxes of Plan B. The geniuses who set up the clinic stocked up on brown bags, too; you can slip everything in there and walk out, pretending it's your lunch or something. The nurses always encourage you to grab as many condoms/lube as you like (they often pretend to busy themselves with something else while you do, too), or simply grab a handful and put it in your brown bag before you have a chance to look embarrassed.

Nothing is awkward with them, and they are so lovely. I almost enjoy going there; I love sex-positive people and these guys are the epitome of that. They are even starting a counselor drop in at that time, too - so if you have anything you're upset/stressed about, you can drop in, and they can screen you for a referral if you need one.

Over all, I am so astounded with the level of care and detail the youth clinics have been given in Vancouver. Absolutely amazing. :)

That nurse was extremely rude but more importantly UNPROFESSIONAL in my opinion. I don't think you were overreacting at all. I would have reported the nurse to the head doctor/nurse or something and filed a complaint. She doesn't seem like she should be working in healthcare at all.

I wanted to get a physical and look into different birth controls that might be right for me. I'm 20, but I know I don't want children (I know that may be hard for some people to believe, but I truly think that sometimes you just know what you want and what you don't) so I was thinking about maybe getting an IUD. I heard they were really effective and could last for five or ten years. I was hoping to get more info about a copper IUD because I don't really like the idea of taken a hormonal birth control method. Anyway, when I got to the facility and did the paperwork and such (other than the usual college red tape) everything went well. I waited in the room to be seen by a nurse practitioner. She was slightly impatient with me, mainly because I had to keep running to the bathroom because I drunk a whole bunch of tea to be prepared for the urine sample they needed. When we started talking, everything went pretty well however. The only time I thought she was crossing the line was when she told me I "didn't need to be having sex" because I'm "just" 20 and also that since I wasn't married, I shouldn't because "guys lie and cheat." She asked me a lot of personal questions about my boyfriend such as, did I think he was going to cheat and how do I know he won't cheat on me. She also acted as if it were really impossible for us to have both been virgins and been each other's first times. She said that she knew girl who had been with a guy for 6 years but came in with some STI because her boyfriend had been cheating on her the whole time. I understand that the nurse was trying to inform me to be careful, but it got to the point where it was just nosy and rude. Me and my (now ex) boyfriend always used condoms. I told her that marriage isn't a sure way someone won't cheat or somehow give their partner an STI so it's good to be smart about sex regardless. But then she just brought religion into it!!! It was very infuriating, but all in all I can't say it was a completely horrible trip because I did end up getting a lot of helpful information and such. I'm just glad that I'm in control of my sexuality and that her opinions didn't sway me from what I felt I should have the freedom to do with my boyfriend as we are legal, consenting, and safer-sex practicing adults.

Due to endometriosis, I have to use BC without the placebo week continuously. The clinic where I had gotten my prescription for BC originally a year before tried to force me against my will to sit in the stirrup-chair and have a pap smear test, which is both invasive and COMPLETELY unnecessary. A woman's risk for HPV and Cervical cancer is astronomically low compared to the threat of Heart disease, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, alcoholism and resulting cirrhosis, etc.

I was molested as a child, multiple times by multiple people, and later date-raped as a young teen. I am NOT comfortable in ANY WAY with vaginal exams. It is not a matter of health; it WILL re-traumatize me. The one time I consented to an exam (because the hospital I was in gave me no choice-- I wonder if that's technically abuse of some kind?) I sobbed uncontrollably and could not even be touched casually on any part of my body for a month afterward.

So, this clinic. I explained that I absolutely could not go through another exam. It felt like a complete violation, doctor or not, and I would not handle it. The clinic responded my immediately demanding that I pay for the pap smear and undego it. If I did not, they would refuse me BC.

At this point I was married and in my 20's. I argued for a good 40 minutes, eventually breaking into tears, and eventually the nurse yelled at me for being "stupid" and not being able to "deal with it". I was turned away with no BC and thus no way to control the excruciating pain that comes from internal organs scarring every month along with my periods.

I ended up having to drive extremely far out of my way to go to the closest planned parenthood, where they (thank god) respect women enough to not try and shove unnecessary, costly, patient-paid procedures in exchange for basic contraception.

It should be illegal to try and force women into superfluous exams like this. I worked in a hospital setting for quite a few years and I am well aware of the EXTREMELY LOW risk of HPV and cervical cancer, as well as the VERY HIGH number of false positives that a pap smear can cause. There are MANY more anecdotal horror stories across the 'net of women who have had false positives and now have permanent vaginal pain from the botches vaginal biopsy. And you know what is even more horrifying? Some of those doctors could easily rule out the need for the biopsy, but they don;t, because that way they can perform it and milk the insurance for an unneeded procedure.

I saw it happen all the time in the medical field.

Be assertive. Stand your ground and DEMAND that you be treated with a base amount of respect. It is YOUR body, and YOU should not be denied basic care because you won't sit in a degrading chair and spread your legs for a profiteering medical "professional".

Only ever had one bit of gynecological stuff done. My mom's a doctor, I got a yeast infection when i was eleven, and she tried to put like a stick of medication up me. I was scared and screaming, kicking and training taught her to do it anyway, frustration and anxiety for me had her saying "do you want me to bring your dad here to sit on you?" afterwards she asked me if i'd ever been molested. i know she wasn't trying to hurt me, but that was terrible

In the UK we have a wonderful free public health system, and when I'm home I always go to a sexual health clinics to stock up on my free birth control and get a full check up. I have always received very high quality care - and did I mention its all free?! My experiences with regular doctors (GPs) in the UK were also all very good - I felt I could talk to her or him openly and ask any questions I had, and be given accurate and non-judgemental advice, without any pressure for unnecessary and expensive procedures or medicines. I have friends and family who really hate doctors and I don't doubt that there is a basis to their fear and sense that they have been treated badly by the medical profession - but this has never been my experience in the UK, and particularly when it comes to sexual/reproductive healthcare I've never had any issues at all.

Since moving to the US 6 years ago I've had some pretty terrible experience with health care, and have noticed particularly in sexual healthcare that women are treated badly. For example, being pressured into having pap/smear tests on a yearly basis whether they are high risk or not, with high rates of false positives. I let's not even mention the scandal of limiting access to abortion or contraception! Its really shocking. In 6 years I only had one experience with a US doctor that wasn't either humiliating, patronising, resulted in me feeling forced to accept unnecessary tests I couldn't afford, or reduced me to tears afterwards because I had been treated so rudely. The one good experience I had was actually with a gynaecologist, who told me she was amazed my pap/smear test came back negative because the lab the clinic sent the samples too was notorious for its almost 90% false negative rate. hah.

Needless to say, the healthcare culture in the US is a big reason why I'm heading home to the UK as soon as I can!

My experience of sexual healthcare (in Britain) has been excellent. There are several clinics in my county, open at varying times during the week, as well as a department in the central hospital, plus contraception of all types available at the GP's surgeries. When I first became sexually active, I made an appointment with the main hospital's sexual health department (there is a drop in service available too), though when I arrived it turned out my appointment had not been recorded, I had to wait for 15 minutes and got an hour long session with a doctor, who really went through all the different options with me. She suggested I should take a pregnancy and chlamydia test (there's a big scheme at the moment to provide free chlamydia tests for all 16 to 25 year-olds in every healthcare environment, including pharmacies at the moment), and after we'd jokingly agreed that I was far too disorganised to go on the pill, she inserted the implant in my arm. She also gave me a load of free condoms, and made my whole time there really pleasant. She also mentioned, while not suggesting which option I should take, that if I was pregnant, that abortions (or 'terminations') were available in the same department (I also know that it offers post-rape counselling and medical care, which we were informed about at school in addition to the contraception) In addition, in my county, there is also a scheme to provide young people with free condoms, via the use of dispensers and registered cards, in various areas, such as health centres and youth clubs. I feel exceedingly lucky that I live in a country with a free health service, and proud, even, that the NHS has been providing free contraception to all women since 1974, and that abortions have been allowed on social grounds, as well as medical since 1967, and that the public awareness of the advisability of both has been kept high every since they were introduced by a largely excellent sex education service.

After reading a bunch of these comments, I'm honestly appalled that some of these nurses/doctors are in any way involved in sexual health. I'm from Canada, where birth control and abortions are covered by our public health care, which I think makes it easier to be safe considering it's condoned by the government. That being said, I understand that having access to these services can be difficult.Definitely in small towns, where there are fewer doctors and clinics, and less anonymity, it could be more difficult to receive confidential help.

I had my first pelvic exam when I was 18, from my GP. She'd been my doctor since I was a child, and earlier that year I'd had my annual physical with her without a pelvic exam. She told me it wasn't necessary since I had never been sexually active, and had no irregularities or problems with menstruation.I then went off to university and lost my virginity- and later went back to my doctor because I wanted to go on birth control. All through adolescence, my doctor had always told me to come see her if I ever wanted birth control or had any questions, and assured me it could be completely confidential. My parents would never need to know if I didn't want them to.Keeping this in mind, I knew I could go see her and be comfortable.

The pelvic exam turned out to be a lot less scary than I had imagined- all the talking, etc., occured while I was still totally dressed. I then changed into a gown, hopped up on the table, and things were done in about 5 minutes. She chatted with me about my boyfriend, whether or not we were using condoms, etc., and carefully explained everything she was doing. It was a huge relief for sex to be treated so straightforwardly and practically- both my parents are unfortunately tight-lipped when it comes to sex. All of my sexual education came from the internet or sex ed in school. My doctor just treated it as fact, and wanted me to be educated and safe in whatever I was doing.

Unfortunately I don't know how any of this would have gone if I weren't heterosexual- to be honest, the difficulties homosexual, bisexual, or any-other-kind-of-sexual women encounter in sexual health never really occurred to me. I feel fairly guilty about that, considering I'm definitely not surrounded by purely heterosexual women. I would expect sexual health practitioners to be somewhat less selfish and more aware than myself, though. Anything else is just being bad at your job.

All that being said, having had that first good experience, I now feel fairly comfortable going to a doctor and asking questions about sexual health and the like. I can't imagine it would be the same if I'd had a bad experience.

My experience of sexual health care in the UK has been terrible.

I am totally in love with my current GUM clinic, if I could go there weekly I would, but alas three years in a monogamous relationship means I have little reason, lol. But when first sexually active there was only one clinic locally and it was only open for around two hours during school hours so we had to skip school to get help, in their waiting room we were made to sit on children's seats, doctors treat us like idiots, and we got honorific dirty looks from the nurses when we went in or if we asked for condoms...they also often gave us cheap condoms despite us telling them they kept breaking, and we kept having to go for EC as a result...but of course it was our fault for not using the condoms correctly (we were using them correctly).

My experience with GP's has been horrific. I went on the pill at 16 for birth control and for heavy periods, it didn't help with periods and I wanted to try something else but was told that my only other option for birth control were condoms - my GP informed me that the IUD was unsafe so he refused to even discuss it with me, and no other options were discussed with me. I'll point out that on hormonal birth control I also had symptoms ranging from breast pain, three month long bleeding, menstrual cramps, through to IBS symptoms and minor strokes - despite going to the doctors countless times about migraines, headaches, these 'attacks' that turned out to be minor strokes, and them knowing I smoked...the pill was the only option they informed me of and the only option they were willing to give for birth control or heavy flow.

When I was older I took myself off the pill and started using FAM - I LOVED this method and went years using it successfully and it helped me learn so much about my body, but whenever I went to a doctor or sexual health clinic I was looked at like I was crazy, and I had the pill practically forced down my throat at every available opportunity. One day I went to my GP about my heavy flow, thinking there must have been something other than the pill I could take to help, I mentioned what my cycle was like - the GP asked me how I knew so much about my cycle, on informing her I used FAM she went on a ten minute rant about how unreliable FAM was, how I was a stupid idiotic little girl who was going to get herself pregnant and when I did she was going to make sure to tell me that she was right and that I was too irresponsible to have a child if I couldn't even use birth control. She refused me treatment for my heavy periods, a few months later when I booked an appointment with her without realising about a chest pain she refused me treatment for that too, which a few days later turned out to be a serious chest infection that landed me in hospital - some may say it might be unrelated, but I knew from the look on her face that this was her refusal based on what was said at the previous appointment.

After that case I decided to get a IUD at the local family planning clinic, the nurses there spent the whole time chatting to themselves rather than acknowledging me or explaining what was happening, they also then nearly put in a hormonal IUD rather than the copper - on stopping them they informed me that hormonal was better and went to go ahead anyway, I had to insist they put in the copper. The insertion was totally pain-free but they made me lay down anyway...then forgot about me.

My last IUD went walkies - as it turns out my body just seems to like my IUD sitting a bit lower than normal, but at the time the first IUD did this we thought it best to replace the old IUD just in it meant getting a ten year rather than keeping in my five year for another year. The doctor used the wrong equipment, the tongs that she used to hold my cervix were spikes - very long, very sharp spikes. I deal with blood all the time, I'm not squeamish in the slightest, but the sight of all that blood on the table and the points on those tongs nearly made me faint. I bled for days and I swear had flash-backs for a few weeks afterwards every time I thought about sex.

It all seems a bit too much, like it's made-up...but seriously, you can't make this stuff up. Here it seems very difficult to put in a complaint about medical staff, if the doctors surgeries don't feel like playing ball with the bodies that handle the complaints then they simply won't and you end up at a stale mate. Despite all the above examples my experience hasn't been totally horrific, it hasn't traumatised me, it just makes me really mad that some medical staff are so bad, that more information isn't available and that more options aren't given to women. I think sexual health care here is fine as long as you are okay with taking the pill.

Planned Parenthood <3

I lost my virginity a few weeks short of my 16th birthday. Two days after that happened my bf and I did the responsible thing, we set up the appointment at the ONLY clinic in our town.
Due to it only being open once a week (shared space with other small clinics, in a big community building) I didn't get to go and get birth control until October. I waited almost two months but we used condoms until then.
When I went the nurse was really nice she started by asking me questions, not invasive or nosey, just the normal questions. Like if I smoked or anything (I said no to that one and she was all "good for you" and she gave me a high 5 =D) I get my patches there for free and everyone is really nice. I have no complaints at all

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