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10 things...

That Family Planning nurses and doctors really want you to know

Wednesday, February 24, 2016



What you do with your pubic hair is entirely up to you. Whether you shave, wax, or leave it natural, don’t ever feel embarrassed about your grooming in front of your nurse or doctor. We don't mind at all, and in fact, we probably won’t even notice, we're just busy doing our job!

2. Don’t feel embarrassed talking to us

We know it can be difficult talking about your sex life, or about things going on with your body, but our nurses and doctors are really approachable and are experienced in working with people of all ages, genders and sexual orientations. You can tell them anything that is going on with you and be open about your sexuality.  They see people just like you, every day. You really can’t surprise or embarrass a Family Planning nurse or doctor.

Although it might not be the easiest conversation to have, try not to hold information back when you’re talking to us. It’s important that you’re honest, so that we can help you properly. And if you have any questions, please ask!


Don’t put off making an appointment – if you think you need an STI test, or you want to talk about your contraception options, come and see us. The sooner you go to a clinic and sort out your sexual health, the better.

Leaving it to chance can risk pregnancy, or getting an STI. Remember some STIs (like chlamydia) often don’t have any symptoms, so you won’t even know you have them until you get tested. STIs are often easily treated, but leaving them untreated for too long can cause more serious health problems, like infertility.

4. Make the appointment! Even if you feel nervous about it.

We know people sometimes feel nervous about making an appointment at Family Planning, especially if they think it will involve painful tests, or lots of embarrassing questions. Once you visit, you’ll find that our nurses and doctors are super friendly, we'll never judge you for what you say, and we won’t find anything embarrassing or weird either. When we ask questions, we're just trying to get all the facts to help you out. Remember any tests you might need are quick and painless too.

Once you visit you’ll feel much better about going again for your next appointment!

5. Ignore the "feminine hygiene" hype

Your vagina is naturally clean, and has a well-balanced ecosystem of bacteria that keeps it healthy and no special products are needed. They cost money and have no benefit over mild soap. Washing inside the vagina upsets the ecosystem.  It’s normal for your vagina to have a slight odour – you don’t need to do anything about this.

However if your vagina or vulva is itchy and smells different, it might be the sign of an infection, which can be easily treated with antibiotics. Using feminine hygiene products won’t fix the problem and might even make it worse. Many women also find that they are sensitive to these products, which can lead to irritation, or even allergic reactions.

Simply shower each day, and wear clean, cotton underwear – your body will take care of the rest.

6. You don’t have to put up with serious PMS

If you’re dealing with really heavy periods, terrible cramps and bad mood swings every month, make an appointment to see a Family Planning nurse.  There are lots of things that we can do to help with your symptoms, ranging from helping with diet, exercise and possible supplements, to changing your method of contraception. Hormonal contraceptives like the pill, vaginal ring, hormonal IUD, implant or injection can relieve PMS symptoms, and make your periods lighter, less frequent or stop all together.

7. Resist going to ‘Doctor Google’ for health advice

We know Googling your symptoms is really tempting, especially if it’s something you don’t want to talk about with your friends or family.

It’s important to understand that while information on the internet can be really interesting, it is often incorrect, and it, of course, doesn’t take into account your own medical history, your family history, or your general health.

Nothing you read on the internet can compare to actually seeing a doctor or nurse. If you find yourself Googling symptoms you’re worried about, make an appointment at Family Planning too.

8. You can visit whenever you want – you don’t have to wait until you are having sex to see us

In fact, if you think you might start having sex soon, it’s best to make an appointment to talk to a nurse before you have sex for the first time. You’ll be able to get your contraception sorted, so there is no risk to you or your partner. Remember, you can get pregnant, or get an STI the first time you have sex, so it’s best to be prepared!

9. You don’t need to put up with a UTI

If you feel like you really need to pee all the time, and it burns when you do, then you might have a urinary tract infection (UTI).  Don’t waste time drinking cranberry juice and waiting for it to go away by itself - make an appointment at Family Planning. We’ll be able to give you some antibiotics, which clears up most UTIs within a few days. UTIs aren’t just uncomfortable and painful – they can lead to more serious problems with your kidneys if you don’t get it treated.

10. You don’t need to cancel your appointment if you get your period

We know most women are tempted to reschedule their appointment if they get their period, especially if they’re booked in for an STI check, or to get an IUD put in. In most cases, it won’t matter in the slightest that you have your period – and it can even make some appointments easier (like getting your IUD put in). The best thing to do is call the clinic and ask for some advice if you’re not sure.

If you feel really uncomfortable about going to your appointment while you have your period, then just call us and ask to reschedule your appointment for the next week – no questions asked.

Family Planning has clinics located throughout New Zealand. Use the clinic finder to find your nearest clinic.

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