In 2002, 100 women under the age of 30 died from breast cancer (www.cancer.org).
In 2003, approximately 12,200 cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed in the United States (The American Cancer Society).
Each year approximately 11 percent of all women aged 15-19 become pregnant (www.plannedparenthood.com).
Are you one of these statistics? Are you sure? Probably not.
Far too few women attend an annual gynecological exam. Yet, during this exam breast cancer and cervical cancer may be diagnosed and treated. These appointments also provided an opportunity to receive advice on a reliable and affordable birth control method.
This once-a-year appointment may not only save your life, but also keep you from having to support another.
Yes, I know all of the excuses. It is uncomfortable having a doctor explore the most private regions of your body. Yet how uncomfortable will it be to have your uterus or breasts removed if you have untreatable cancer? How uncomfortable will it be to have an unwanted child at 20?
And how uncomfortable will it be to die from cancer that could have been found and treated? A lot more than a doctor having a quick look at your cervix and breasts.
Have I convinced you to call and make an appointment? I hope so. Now maybe you don’t know where to call. Maybe you don’t have great health insurance or health insurance at all. Maybe you’re afraid of getting a male doctor-don’t worry you have a few choices.
My favorite choice is the Larimer County Health Department. First of all, these doctors are all women, and having worked with all sorts of women, families and situations they are extremely open minded and non-judgmental.
The health department also bases its rates on a sliding scale determined by your income, not your parents. This lowers the cost of an annual examination to pennies and possibly free.
Another benefit of using the services of the Larimer County Health Department is the doctors keep all services confidential. They won’t even call you if you’d rather they not. They also give plenty of free condoms and even have a basket of free condoms in the bathroom if you’re too embarrassed to ask.
I’ve been going to the Health Department for my annual exams for over seven years. Not only are the doctors competent, but also answer all of my (sometimes stupid) questions with real open-minded answers. They also make my reproductive health and birth control affordable on my small student budget.
For more information on the Larimer County Health Department services or to make an appointment call them at: 498-6700.
Another choice for reproductive health is going to the Hartshorn Health Services on campus. They offer family planning counseling, exams, pregnancy testing and other services for women and men concerning reproductive health.
The fees are based on the health fee all full time fee-paying students are charged. The cost of each appointment is a reduced cost based on this fee.
For more information on Hartshorn Health Services or to make an appointment call 491-1754.
Another good option for students seeking reproductive services is to visit the nearest Planned Parenthood. These centers offer women only doctors and nurses and low cost visits and birth control based on a sliding scale.
To find the nearest Planned Parenthood near you and/or to make an appointment call 1-800-230-PLAN or visit www.plannedparenthood.org.
No matter what center or health department you choose to visit, just visit one. The risk of dying or having an unwanted pregnancy is not worth avoiding the embarrassment and low risk visit. Please don’t let yourself become a statistic.