Stocking up for the unexpected

    The region’s women’s health providers have an unusual stocking stuffer idea. 

    Each January and February, there is an uptick in requests for pregnancy tests at some of the region’s family planning clinics.

    Physician’s assistant Tracy Graham does not have a scientific explanation, but has her suspicions.

    “Many people are pretty thankful when they receive their gifts and just not thinking or perhaps just have a mishap with the method that they are currently using,” Graham said.

    Graham leads clinical care delivery for the Family Planning Council.

    “If your first-line birth control option fails or your festive mood makes you forget, Graham says buying full-price emergency contraception at a drugstore could cost you $30 to $70,” she said.

    She’s urging women to plan for the unexpected.

    “It’s the gift to give yourself for the holidays,” Graham said. “It allows you, when you come into one of our clinics to get the counseling you need — perhaps any other issues that might be going on —  but you can walk out of the door with a supply of emergency contraceptive just in case,” she said.

    The special-dose birth control pills kick start the menstrual flow before a pregnancy occurs, and are most effective in the first hours and days after intercourse.

    Graham says many women do not think they are at risk for an unplanned pregnancy but about half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended.

    Many clinics have limited hours for the holiday, but the region’s reproductive health counseling hotline CHOICE has a list of provider hours – 215-985-3300. www.choice-phila.org/hotlines.htm

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