A family planning clinic is a health facility that provides contraception and other gynecological services. It is promoted as a means of helping people prevent pregnancy through birth control or other methods until they choose to start families. Many clinics are federally or privately funded in order to provide low income people with preventative health services, such as screenings for breast cancer or sexually transmitted diseases, at a free or reduced cost. The majority of clinics are located in the United States and the United Kingdom, but some family planning clinic doctors travel to developing countries to offer services as acts of charity.
Clinics can serve as a way for sexually active people to have ready access to contraception, such as birth control pills or condoms. Depending on where the family planning clinic is located and how much funding it receives, it can accept any size donation as payment or it may have to set a flat fee. Many clinics tend to be cheaper than doctor offices, so people without insurance can purchase contraception at a lower price. Some people opt for family planning clinics if they wish to confidentially receive contraception.
There are several gynecological and health services offered by most family planning clinics. Women can receive services to ensure reproductive health, such as yearly gynecological check-ups, cervical and breast cancer screenings, and sexually transmitted disease testing. Clinics also offer health services to men. They can check men for reproductive health conditions such as colon cancer, erectile dysfunction, infertility, or sexually transmitted diseases.
If people who don’t wish to conceive a child have unprotected sex or their contraception fails, a family planning clinic can provide them with emergency contraception. Emergency contraception, also referred to as the morning after pill, is taken by a woman and is thought to prevent pregnancy by stopping the release of eggs. This can keep sperm from implanting the egg and is most effective if taken up to five days after unprotected intercourse. Abortion services are also offered at clinics in the event of unwanted pregnancies, as well as information on other options, such as adoption.
A person does not necessarily have to be currently sexually active to benefit from the services offered by a family clinic. Clinics also offer information on sexual and reproductive health, such sexually transmitted disease prevention, effectiveness of birth control methods, and how to be prepared for the emotional aspects of having sex for the first time. Some clinics also offer advice hotlines and counseling for rape victims as well as pregnant teenagers or those suffering with difficult emotional issues after an abortion.