Where teens get the skinny on safe sex

Two teenagers walked into the Planned Parenthood’s new teen clinic to ask questions about birth control on June 5.

Two more teen girls came in for contraceptive services and information.

Two teenage boys came in with their girlfriends and played a game of “sexual jeopardy,” which included the categories HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections and contraception, while they ate free food.

The Teen Clinic is a new program at Planned Parenthood, located at 2817 Wheaton Way. It takes place from 1-5:30 p.m. in one of the waiting rooms on the first and third Wednesday of the month.

While teenagers wait to see a clinician or counselor, they can get information about a number of reproductive health issues, including birth control and STD’s. Everything that happens at the clinic is confidential.

“I think it makes it really easy to access services and information,” said Debbie Rowe, an educator for Planned Parenthood. “If you come in and have a really good experience you’re more likely to continue.”

Rowe said the turnout at the clinics averages about 10, but she has seen at least 20 on some days.

Rowe said the program gives Planned Parenthood a better opportunity to explain various birth control methods before they are prescribed. The main reason birth control fails is because of user error, she added.

“We’re trying to get more facts to teens so they’re not just acting on myths,” said Denise Johnson May, Planned Parenthood educator. “Hopefully, we’re empowering teens.”

Planned Parenthood volunteer Margielyn Agpalo, 19, was on hand to tell teenagers about her experience. Agpalo had a baby at 17 and started volunteering at Planned Parenthood as a member of the teen parent panel, a group of teens who speak to schools and community groups.

“It’s easier for them to receive (birth control) services than go home and tell their parents they’re pregnant,” Agpalo said.

Educators at the clinic always encourage teens to tell their parents about coming to the clinic, Rowe said.

Planned Parenthood is a non-profit organization that receives most of its funds through donors and state funding.

A full contraception and STD clinic is open four days a week said the Clinic Manager Cheri Pogue. She said operation hours are available by calling (360) 373-6827. According to Pogue the clinic is always open for pregnancy tests and emergency contraceptive pills.

“We’re promoting healthy reproductive care,” said Pogue.

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