Features

Tips for a Safe and Healthy New Year

Meghan Benson
DIRECTOR OF COMMUNITY EDUCATION
PLANNED PARENTHOOD OF WISCONSIN

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin encourages women and men to start the new year off safe, healthy and strong by taking the following five steps to prevent disease and promote health and wellbeing.

1. Schedule your annual health visit with Planned Parenthood or your primary health care provider. Your health care provider will discuss your health concerns with you, recommend appropriate health screenings based on your history and risk, provide information on disease prevention, and offer additional resources for your health and wellbeing.

2. Get the screenings recommended by your health care provider. If you are sexually active, be sure to get tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Many STIs are easily curable or treatable, but left untreated, can lead to more serious problems, including infertility. Women should also have regular breast and cervical cancer screenings. STI testing, treatment and breast and cervical cancer screening are available through Planned Parenthood.

3. For all women of reproductive age, it is never too late to make a reproductive life plan, including if and when you might want children, how you will prepare for safe and healthy pregnancy and childbirth, who will help and support you as a parent and how you will prevent unintended pregnancies.

If you are not ready to get pregnant yet, in between pregnancies, not planning to have children or are done having children, there are many safe and effective methods of birth control to choose from.

4. Stress can impact your health, including your sexual and reproductive health, in many ways. It may have physical effects ranging from headaches to ulcers to lowered immune defenses. It may impact your relationships with others or your ability to be successful at school or work.

Minimize stress by learning improved coping skills, such as breathing exercises, meditating, physical activity, and how to better communicate your needs to those around you.

5. Take preventive steps to protect your sexual and reproductive health. If you are sexually active, talk with your partner about safer sex, use condoms or dental dams to prevent transmission of STIs, and make sure you and your partner get tested for STIs before becoming sexually active with each other.

All sexually active individuals should receive the Hepatitis A/B vaccine to prevent the sexual transmission of these viruses, and anyone age 26 and younger should receive the HPV vaccine. HPV is the virus associated with cervical cancer as well as other types of cancer.

For more information or to find a Planned Parenthood near you, go to its Web site or call 800-230-PLAN.

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