New Jersey Family Planning League (NJFPL) is committed to providing quality family planning and related health services to all New Jerseyans who need them. We support 10 agencies that operate nearly 50 health centers in all 21 counties.
Check with your local health center to learn more about available family planning services. These may include:
- Family planning counseling and education
- Birth control methods
- Pelvic exams
- Cervical, breast, testicular, and prostate cancer screening
- Pregnancy testing and counseling
- Basic infertility services
- Sexually transmitted infection (STI or STD) testing, prevention, education, and treatment
- Screening for HIV, PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) assessment and other services
- Referrals to other health and social services
Did you know
It’s October, and you may have heard that it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Here are some fast facts for 2019:
- Breast cancer will make up about 15 percent of new cancer cases
- It’s estimated that there will be more than 271,000 new breast cancer diagnoses by the end of the year
- Breast cancer will cause about 7 percent of cancer deaths, or more than 42,000
- More than 9 out of 10 people with breast cancer survive for at least five years
Know Your Risk of Breast CancerThe cause of breast cancer is not fully understood. It’s likely that there are multiple causes. We do know that there are risk factors for getting breast cancer. Some of these are:
- Family history of breast cancer
- Having had breast cancer in the past
- Being female
- Radiation exposure
- Period began at an early age, beginning before 12
- Late menopause, starting after 55
- Alcohol consumption
Breast Cancer ScreeningThe most important thing you can do for your breast health is regular screening. Speak to your healthcare provider about what exams you might need and how often you might need them.
What to Expect from ScreeningDuring a breast cancer screening, a healthcare provider will take your medical history and perform a physical exam. Medical history is very important because it gives clues to how much risk for breast cancer you may have. Your provider will want to know:
- If a family member had breast cancer
- If you’ve ever had a genetic test done that shows you have a risk (it has to do with the BRCA gene)
- If you’ve ever given birth
- If you’ve ever breastfed children
- How much alcohol you drink on a regular basis
Lowering Your RiskThere are some cancer risks you can’t control, like your age, family history or being a woman. But some risk factors you can—and should—control. Here are some tips:
- Keep a healthy weight
- Don’t smoke, or quit smoking
- Get regular exercise
- Limit your alcohol, or even stop drinking completely
- Breastfeed your child if you are able
- If you’re going through menopause and are on hormone replacement therapy, talk to your healthcare provider about whether you’re at increased risk of breast cancer
- If you know you have a BRCA gene mutation, talk to your provider about what else you can do to lower your risk of breast cancer
Many people pass on getting screened for sexually transmitted infections (STIs, also known as sexually transmitted diseases or STDs) for fear of the unknown. Will it be embarrassing? Will it be expensive? Will it hurt? The truth is, STI screenings are important for and beneficial to anyone who is sexually active. Many STIs do not cause symptoms for months or even years, so you or your partner can be a carrier and not know it. STI screenings are worth the peace of mind alone, not to mention all the health benefits to be gained from early detection and treatment. Remember, doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals are there to help, not to judge. They’ve likely seen and heard worse than anything you can tell them, so don’t be embarrassed to ask for a STI test. And, armed with this guide, you won’t have to let fear stop you from getting the STI check you need.
What STIs Should I Be Checked For?To determine which STIs to check for, your healthcare provider will likely perform a physical exam and ask questions such as:
- What symptoms do you have, if any?
- Do you practice safer sex and use protection?
- How many partners have you had?
- Have you or any partner ever had an STI?
- What type of sex have you had in the past? (Oral, vaginal, anal)
- Do you have any other risk factors, such as sharing needles?
- Genital warts
- Pubic lice (crabs)
How Are STI Tests Done?Different STIs require different methods of screening, and some infections have more than one way to detect them. Some of these include:
- Urine test: chlamydia and gonorrhea
- Blood test: hepatitis, HIV, syphilis
- Swab or tissue scraping: chlamydia, gonorrhea, HPV, genital herpes
- Pap test: HPV
Do STI Screenings Hurt?In general, no. Urine tests are completely painless, whereas blood tests require breaking the skin with a small needle, which most people tolerate very well. Some swab tests, especially the cervix or urethra must be swabbed and may be uncomfortable, but symptoms of untreated chlamydia or gonorrhea are much more painful.
I’m a Minor; Do I Need My Parents with Me at My STI Test?As with all other services at NJFPL-supported health centers, STI screenings are completely confidential, even for minors. (Though if you are a teenager, we encourage you to talk with your parents.)
Do I Need an STI Test if I Practice Safe Sex?It is never a bad idea to get tested, even if you use condoms or other forms of protection. No prophylactic method is 100 percent effective in preventing pregnancy or STIs, not even condoms.
How Long Will My STI Screening Take?The length of time spent at the health center depends on many things; however, the STI test itself takes only a few minutes.
When Will I Get My STI Test Results?Some tests, such as the rapid HIV test, can produce results in as little as 20 minutes, whereas others can take days or weeks. In general, expect urine, blood or tissue samples to be sent to a lab for processing, where they may have to wait while other orders are processed. If you have not received your results in a week, call your health center for a time estimate.
How Much Will My STI Screening Cost?All services at NJFPL-supported health centers are priced on a sliding scale. Depending upon your need and income level, your STI test can be inexpensive or possibly even free. Ready to take the plunge and get tested? Great! Find the NJFPL-supported health center that is closest or most convenient to you and call to set up your appointment.
Congratulations on deciding to continue your education! College is an exciting time with lots of possibilities. You’ll learn new things, make new friends and start new relationships. College means freedom and responsibility. Getting good grades and having healthy relationships is all on you. That freedom can be empowering; every choice you make is an important one, especially with regard to sex and relationships. Here’s your guide to family planning as a college student.
Bring Your Own CondomsIf you’re going to have sex, it is your responsibility to be safe. It doesn’t matter who you are, you should never rely on your partner to have condoms available. You can get free condoms from many campus health centers, as well as family planning and reproductive health centers near your school. Pick some up before your next date.
Use Birth ControlCondoms are very effective at preventing pregnancy, but not 100 percent so. Birth control is another layer of protection against unwanted pregnancy. Several birth control options are available for women, including:
- IUDs, or intrauterine devices
- Birth control pills, “The Pill”
- Birth control shot
- Birth control patch
Get TestedIf you are sexually active, you need to get tested for STIs at least once a year. Being tested is often the only way to know if you have an infection, since many of them either do not cause or cause very mild symptoms. A set of STI tests can include:
- HIV and AIDS
Get an HPV VaccineIf you haven’t gotten a vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV), get one. There’s no good reason not to. HPV is so common that nearly all sexually active people get it at some point, according to the CDC. HPV is the virus that causes genital warts, but perhaps more importantly, two types of the virus are responsible for about 70 percent of cervical cancer cases. The HPV vaccine is so effective and so useful to public health that the CDC expanded its indications in June 2019. Previously, the vaccine was recommended to women under age 26 and men under age 21. A CDC advisory group increased the age for men to 26, and the vaccine is recommended to men and women up to age 45 in some cases.
Know Where to GoYou don’t have to make decisions on your sexual health alone, and if you need help, you have resources available. First, you’ll want to find your campus’s health clinic. These clinics often offer free services to students, including mental health and sexual health counseling. If you’re staying in New Jersey for college, NJFPL funds 46 health clinics located in all 21 counties. Find the closest one to your school on our website. If you’re out-of-state, check with your campus health center.
Did You Know
In 2018 the New Jersey Family Planning League family planning project prevented:
- 20,760 unintended pregnancies
- 7,010 abortions
- 2,020 chlamydia infections
Did You Know
The majority of Title X patients in New Jersey are young people, with 60 percent of patients 29 or younger.
Did You Know
Across the country, more than 4 million people annually rely on Title X for affordable sexual and reproductive health care services – including nearly 110,000 here in New Jersey.
NJFPL is proud to announce the launch of our new website, which focuses on providing easy access to health center locator, along with helpful information about services provided by the health centers.