Education: Frequently Asked Questions About Sexual Health

Can a woman get pregnant any time on her cycle?

Yes! A woman is most likely to get pregnant when she is ovulating (the time during her cycle when her body releases an egg), but not every woman knows when she is ovulating. Women can ovulate in the middle of their cycle, right after their period, or even right before it. Sperm can live inside a woman's body for up to five days after ejaculation, meaning that if a woman has unprotected sex during her period and starts ovulating right after it, she could still get pregnant. (Always use barrier contraception such as latex or polyurethane condoms for protection against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.)

Does Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky do pregnancy tests?

Yes. Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky offers pregnancy testing for $10. Appointments are not needed, but you must be at the health center at least 30 minutes before closing in order to be tested. Because prices and open hours change from time to time, please check with your health center before you visit. You can reach your nearest Planned Parenthood by calling (800) 230-PLAN.

The condom broke last night. Can I take the "morning after pill"?

Emergency contraception (EC) is sometimes referred as the "morning after pill." Emergency contraception is most effective if taken within 72 hours of sexual contact but can be taken up to120 hours after vaginal intercourse. Emergency contraception is a two-pill medication that contains the same hormones as birth control pills, taken 12 hours apart. It works by preventing ovulation, fertilization, or implantation of an egg. Emergency contraception is not form of abortion and will not terminate an existing pregnancy.

When taken correctly, EC can reduce the chance of pregnancy by up to 89 percent. If the condom broke or you had unprotected sex, you may want to use emergency contraception. You can purchase emergency contraception at your local Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky health center. Call (800) 230-PLAN to find the health center nearest you. You can also purchase emergency contraception over-the-counter at your local pharmacy. Plan B® is now available without a prescription for consumers age 18 or older, but a prescription is needed for women 17 and younger.

I am pregnant and I can not have a child at this time. Does Planned Parenthood provide abortions? Where can I go and how much do they cost?

Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky offers abortion services at three locations: Indianapolis (317-352-1900/800-352-1901), Bloomington (812-336-0219/800-828-7525), and Merrillville (219-769-3500). Please call the location that is most convenient for you for information and to make an appointment. It is a good idea to call the health center as early in pregnancy as possible.

Pill abortions (induced by drugs and sometimes called "medical abortions" or "the abortion pill") are available between 5 and 7 weeks of pregnancy and the cost is $500. In-clinic abortions are available from 6 to 12 weeks of pregnancy and cost $400. As prices are subject to change, please check with the health center when you call.

Whichever method you choose, the state of Indiana requires that you must meet with a nurse practitioner or physician, who will read you state-mandated information, at least 18 hours before the procedure. This requirement can be met at many local Planned Parenthood health centers, in addition to the sites performing abortions, but you will need to call your health center to make an appointment. The abortion site you choose can help you find a Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky location where you can hear the information.

In addition, the state of Indiana requires people under the age of 18 to obtain consent from one parent, or a judicial bypass, before they can obtain an abortion. If you are under age 18, please be sure to ask the health center when you call how to meet this requirement.

Click on the link for more information on pill abortions and in-clinic abortions.

Are STI (sexually transmitted infection) tests given as part of most regular medical check-ups?

No. If you've had unprotected sex or think you may need testing, please talk to your doctor or nurse. Don't assume your health care providers can read your mind. They don't know what to test for unless you ask!

For men, testing for STIs may require a urine test, a blood test and/or a visual examination, depending on the nature of the infection. For women, it may involve samples of cells taken from the cervix, a blood test and/or a visual examination. Our services are confidential, so please feel free to ask any questions you have about STIs during your next visit to the health center.

Do people under 18 need their parent's permission to get birth control or be treated for an STI?

Generally, a young person does not need parental permission to receive sexual health services. At Planned Parenthood our services are confidential, just between you and the health center staff. You don't need parental permission to go on birth control, but we encourage youth to involve their parents or other adult caregivers in the process. If you'd like to start using birth control, whether you're already sexually active or just thinking about it, our staff can provide information about all the different options available, and help you decide which choice is right for you. Indiana state law requires that all health care providers notify Child Protective Services if the provider believes that a young person aged 13 or younger is sexually active.

If you think you are having symptoms of a STI, or have had unprotected sex, get to a doctor or health center and get examined. STIs can cause serious health risks, even infertility, if left untreated. You also risk passing the infection to someone else if you don't get treated. Teens or young adults are particularly at risk for STIs. About one in four sexually active young people contract an STD each year.

Planned Parenthood health centers offer affordable STI testing. Some health centers offer testing on sliding fee; the cost is calculated by your income. You may even qualify for free services. To make an appointment at the nearest Planned Parenthood health center, call (800) 230-PLAN. If you think you may have an STI, or see any visible sores, have unusual discharge or any other symptoms that concern you, abstain from sexual contact until you can get tested and treated.

After someone has been treated for an STI, can they get it again?

STIs are not like chicken pox. If you had some bacterial infections like chlamydia, gonorrhea or trichomoniasis once, you can get them again. If you are diagnosed with bacterial STI, make sure you take all your medication and follow other instructions given to you by your health care provider. Also make sure your sexual partner(s) know you have been diagnosed, so they can also be tested and treated if necessary. STIs are highly contagious, and if you are diagnosed, your partner is likely to also have the infection. Condoms can provide protection against STIs, so make sure you use one each time you have oral, anal or vaginal intercourse. Remember that some STIs are viral. This means there is no cure at this time. Viral infections include HIV, Hepatitis, HPV, and Herpes.

Can a person pass along an STI, even if they don't know they have it?

Yes! 75% of women and 25% of men with chlamydia have no symptoms, for example. Some STIs such as herpes or HPV (genital warts) can be in a latent stage, meaning the person is showing no symptoms but is still contagious. Symptoms may occur in areas we cannot see. Warts can occur underneath the skin or even on a woman's cervix, both places that are not easily visible. If you are having unprotected sex with someone, make sure you get a check up regularly. To decrease your chances of getting an STI, always use latex or polyurethane condoms during sexual contact.

Are there some STIs that do not have a cure?

Yes, there are four: HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), Herpes, HPV, and Hepatitis C . Once you are diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, Herpes, or Hepatitis C, you have the disease for the rest of your life. HIV, the most serious of the three, can cause AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). AIDS is fatal, and there is no cure. HIV is spread through blood, semen, vaginal fluids and breast milk. Although latex condoms have been found to protect against the HIV virus, other STIs like Herpes and genital warts (HPV) can occur in areas a condom cannot cover. Condoms offer some protection against Hepatitis C, but it can also be passed through sharing needles and blood. Genital warts and Herpes sores can be found in the pubic hair and even on the inner thigh. They are highly contagious and are transmitted by skin-to-skin contact.

While these viral STIs do not have cures, there are vaccines available for HPV. Talk to your doctor to see if the vaccine is right for you.

If you see any unusual sores or bumps anywhere in your genital area, abstain from sex immediately and see your health care provider. To decrease your chances of contracting an incurable STI, you and any potential new sex partner should get tested to make sure you don't have an infection before having sex and use condoms every time you have a sexual encounter.

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