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Transitioning From College to Real Life: 4 Ways for a Healthier You

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Congratulations! You just graduated! Now what?

Transitioning from college to the real life can be overwhelming. This new chapter in your life is a time when you may be making big life changes. Maybe you’re starting a new job. Or moving to a new city. Or maybe you’re even getting married. The transition from college to the real world can be scary as there are so many things to remember and so many decisions to make.

Staying Healthy in Your 20’s

Healthcare is one of the things that you might not be thinking about in a post-college world but should. Sure, you’re probably young and healthy and maybe you think it’s enough to do what you’ve always been doing – eating healthy and working out.

Life after college means thinking about healthcare in a different way, especially when it comes to your reproductive health.

Managing your reproductive health is important for women in their 20’s because this is the time where you’re more likely to date around. The CDC reports that women in between the ages of 20-24 have a high rate of chlamydia because they are in the dating scene and are more likely to have multiple partners.

Knowing how to take care of yourself can help you make safer and healthier choices and reduce the risk for things ranging from urinary tract infections, to unplanned pregnancies.

4 Steps to Take Care of Yourself Like a Grown Up

1. Get Health Insurance

While buying health insurance isn’t as fun buying a new pair of shoes or as urgent as paying off your student loans, it’s something that will give you a peace of mind in case something happens.

CNBC has reported that medical bills is the number 1 cause of bankruptcies. If you have a car accident or even an unplanned pregnancy, not having health insurance will set you back financially more than you would if you have health insurance.

Your student health center can help you with post-graduation options and some schools may even have extended programs for new graduates. Schools in the University of California system like Berkeley, UCLA and UCSD allows graduates to extend their coverage for one semester or quarter after graduation. USC graduates who had paid the student health fee during the school year can pay $240 to access their student health center until August.

Check with your school’s student health center to see what your health insurance options are. 

2. Stock up on Birth Control From Your Student Health Center

If you’re still covered under your student health insurance, get your birth control before your insurance expires, especially if you’re leaving the state.

Having birth control on hand will reduce “pill anxiety.”  Pill anxiety is the stress you feel when you know you’re about to run out of birth control and you don’t have time to go to the pharmacy.

If you move to a new city or state, you’ll also have the extra stress of having to find a new doctor, make an appointment, wait to see the doctor, and then find time to go to the pharmacy to get your pills. And the consequence of not doing this? Potentially an unplanned pregnancy.

The easiest thing to do is to get your birth control through your student center before you leave. It’s one less thing to worry about.

3. Get a Primary Doctor

Finding a primary doctor is like dating. You may need to try a few physicians before you find one you really like.

It may be tempting to just go to urgent care but seeing the same doctor on a regular basis will ensure you get all the medical screenings and tests you need to stay healthy and more importantly, build medical history.

A 2014 Fertility and Sterility study has shown that approximately 50% of women of reproductive age have never discussed reproductive health with their medical provider. If you experience irregular periods or infertility, having a good medical history will help the doctor identify what the issue might be.

Dr. Charles Irwin Jr., director of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at UCSF suggests “Get yourself some kind of primary health care doctor or system. It might be a nurse practitioner or a gynecologist – but find some place that knows you.”

4. Automate Your Birth Control

Starting a new chapter in your life should not be disrupted by an unplanned pregnancy and the easiest way to prevent that is to automate your birth control.

Brick and mortar pharmacies have automated systems to remind you to pick up your birth control pills.

However there are online companies that make it even easier. New telemedicine companies like Pandia Health can ship your birth control directly to you wherever you are. And if you’ve moved to a new city and have not yet found a regular doctor to write out a new prescription, some companies have licensed doctors to evaluate you online so you’ll have a prescription for birth control.

Because these telemedicine companies are an emerging trend, how will you know which one to choose? Like choosing a local doctor, you will want to look at the credentials of the physician on staff. What school did they go to? How long have they been in practice? And beyond that, extra bonus points can be given if the doctor also involved with teaching or the community because that means they are seen as a thought leader in their field.

Automating your birth control is an easy way to simplify your life where you can skip the trip to the pharmacy and enjoy your new life as a new grad.

So welcome to the real world, Class of 2017! For those who have been out of school recently, what other tips would you have? Comment below!


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The Birth Control Pill Revolution

The FDA approved the birth control Pill 57 years ago today. This revolutionized women’s quality of life across the US with its positive impact on society as well as health benefits to women.

The Benefits to Society

  1. Economic Freedom and Power Researchers at Harvard and the University of Michigan have largely credited the Pill for advancing women’s economic freedom. The Pill enabled women to obtain higher education where they could pursue more lucrative and male-dominated fields such as law and medicine, resulting in huge implications in the US and global economy.
  2. Increased Productivity One of the top reasons work is missed is due to pain from periods. In a 1984 study, dysmenorrhea (pain from periods) accounted for 600 million lost work hours and $2 billion in lost productivity annually. Birth control pills are used to treat painful periods. Less pain means more productivity and who doesn’t like more productivity?
  3. Better Education One of the top reasons young women misses school is because of pain from periods. Girls who miss 2 days each month lose 10% of their education. It’s difficult to get educated if young women aren’t at school 😉
  4. Family Planning Families are able to decide when and how many children they want. The World Health Organization suggests that families space their children at least 18 months apart to allow the woman’s body to recover from the nutritional drain of having a child.
  5. Fewer Abortions Enabling women to decide when to have children has resulted in fewer unplanned pregnancies, thus making the difficult decision on whether or not they should have a child or not.

The Health Benefits to Women

  1. Decreased Risk of Cancer  Women who use birth control pills for 5 years or more have a 50% decreased risk of ovarian cancer compared to those who don’t use birth control pills. According to the National Cancer Institute, women who use birth control pills have a decreased risk of endometrial (the lining of the uterus) cancer as well. The protection increases the longer you use birth control and continues many years after you stop the medications.
  2. Less Anemia The number one cause of anemia in a menstruating woman is menstruation. The birth control pill results in lighter periods and thus less blood loss and less anemia.
  3. Control Over Periods On the birth control pill or ring, women can decide whether or not they want their periods. They can even decide when their periods will come. Read our blog here on how to turn off your periods.
  4. Decreased Pain from Periods When on the pill, there is less build up of the lining and less blood comes out, and thus there is decreased pain.
  5. Regular Periods Women can know within one day when she will get her period if she takes her pills regularly. For women with PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), the pill is often used to regulate their periods.
  6. Less Acne The male sex hormone androgen is made in larger amounts during puberty and higher levels of androgens can lead to excess sebum. Birth control (pill, patch, or ring) that contain estrogen and progesterone lowers the amount of androgens in your body. This results in less sebum and less severe acne.
  7. Less PMS  Aka premenstrual syndrome. If you decide to have fewer bleeding days, then you will have fewer days with PMS.

Despite the many benefits of birth control to society and women’s health, the United States is at a turning point. Clinics providing women’s healthcare such as Title X Family Planning clinics face severe funding cuts. Because these clinics provide access to vital services such as birth control, sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing, and pap smears, reducing access to these services will likely harm society and women’s health.

It’s time for a #PillRevolution where women and families demand that birth control is a human right, so let’s make sure we say #ThankYouBirthControl today!

-Dr. Yen


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Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (#SAAPM) and we wanted to bring your attention to a few resources which highlight this issue.

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Statistics from Rid of My Disgrace by Justin and Lindsey A. Holcomb

As adapted from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center:

  1. Believe and support survivors – Thank them for sharing their stories.
  2. Respond to victim-blaming, rape jokes, or other problematic comments:
    1. “Sexual assault is never the survivor’s fault.”
    2. Refocus accountability on the individual(s) who committed sexual abuse.
  3. Share resources like
    1. Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), 1-800-656-HOPE 24/7. And they also have a chat feature. This is a comprehensive list of resources from general, domestic, intimate partner, incest, talking, disabilities, college, male survivors, LGBTQ, etc.
    2. National Center for Victims of Crime Victim Service Helpline, 1-800-FYI-CALL or 1-800-211-7996 (TTY/TDD)
    3. Know Your IX – includes info for survivors (surviving the abusive relationship, seeking medical care, building a network of support, experiencing discrimination as a survivor, dealing with unsupportive friends/family) and for friends/family
    4. http://www.crisistextline.org – Text HOME to 741741 where volunteer run the program 24/7
    5. End Rape On Campus – educational and advocacy resource to address rape on campus
  4. Donate or Fundraise for organizations which defend women’s rights
  5. Know and share information about emergency contraception which we will write about later this week.


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Women’s March 2017

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Women’s rights is an issue that we at Pandia Health take very seriously as our mission is founded on the belief that better access to affordable, convenient and dignified services for reproductive health will make women’s lives easier. Our team members proudly marched alongside tens of thousands of women in San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland on January 21. We believe that this march is more than just a reaction to our presidential election, but it was also to stand up for what we believe are human rights: equal pay, civil and LGBTQ rights, and of course reproductive health and affordable health care rights.

Pandia Health was founded so that women could get easier access to birth control. We understand the challenges that women encounter when it comes to getting birth control – from setting up an appointment with your doctor, to taking time off from work to see the doctor, to the monthly task of picking up your medication from a pharmacy – Pandia’s services were designed to eliminate these pain points by providing: an online doctor’s consult for a written prescription, free delivery to the address of your choice, and automated refills so that you have one less thing to worry about. You can even choose to receive up to 12 months’ worth of pills in one shipment.

The Affordable Care Act helped alleviate some of these costs because the act required insurance companies to cover the costs of FDA-approved contraceptive methods for all women. From birth control pills to IUDs to emergency contraception and even counseling. But women are at risk of losing such coverage if Congress and the President repeals the Affordable Care Act. That’s one of the main reasons we marched. More than ever, we feel the need for our mission to enable women to get the birth control they need in the easiest possible way. And that’s why we encourage you to take action.

Take action for yourself by getting your birth control prescription today. Take action on a state level and partake in 10 Actions / 100 Days, a campaign by the Women’s March so that your senators can know which issues are important to you, the people. Take action, because your future is in your hands.

For the month of February, for each person who signs up for and uses Pandia Health, we will donate to the Center of Reproductive Rights. Enter the referral code: WOMENSMARCH.

As Gloria Steinem said, “the story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”


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Achieving Your New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year!!!

A new year brings a fresh start, and many folks like to create a list of resolutions to make the most of the days ahead. Here are ways that Pandia can help you with some of the most popular goals:

Planning new day.

Take Better Care of Yourself

  • Finally get on birth control
    • If you’re sexually active but not currently using any method of birth control, there’s no time like the present. Give yourself the gift of peace of mind and find a method that works for you.
  • Tame acne
    • Consider the positive effects of birth control medication as acne treatment.
  • Regulate your periods
    • Birth control can help those with irregular periods and even eliminate them entirely if you wish! Reduce the stress in your life if this has been a pain point.

Save Time

What would you do with a bit more time on your hands? Perhaps squeeze in more exercise at the gym or go on more walks and enjoy the outdoors?

  • Get 1 year’s supply at once
    • Did you know that a bill was passed in California that allows women to receive a 12-month supply of birth control instead of only 3 months at a time? SB-999 goes into effect on January 1, 2017, so check with your insurance plan and save yourself time and effort.
  • Schedule a telemedicine consult to get a prescription
    • It can be a hassle to see a doctor in person. Why not take care of this online with one of Pandia’s doctors to get your prescription for birth control?
  • Skip the trip to the pharmacy
    • With Pandia, you receive your birth control directly at home via mail.

Save Money

  • Use your FSA dollars
    • If you’ve set aside money for your flexible spending account through your health insurance plan, consider using those funds for your birth control. Avoid the last-minute rush at the end of the year and make sure you put those dollars to good use.

Sticking to resolutions can be quite the challenge, but we hope you find Pandia to be a convenient solution for an important part of your health! Why not get started today and be well on your way to checking off one of the resolutions on your list?

Cheers to 2017!

Wishing you Health and and Happiness,
Pandia Health


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What Happens During a PAP Smear

For those of you that have never heard of a PAP (Papanicolaou) smear, let me explain… Pap smear = Pap test and a Pap test checks for cervical cancer. Cells are scraped from the opening of the cervix and examined under a microscope to see if there are any abnormal potentially cancerous cells. FYI: the cervix is the lower part of the uterus that opens at the top of the vagina (you are welcome to look it up on google if you want to see how it looks like).

To get a Pap smear, you have to get a pelvic exam which involves you sitting on a table and placing your feet in stirrups, which definitely feels awkward. You’re in this position so that your doctor can better see your cervix.

Your doctor then gently places an instrument called a speculum into the vagina so that she (or he if you’re comfortable with that) can see inside the vagina and cervix. It’s most likely not as pretty as this Zoe Buckman piece, but this is what a speculum looks like. It might be cold and hard and a weird feeling, but it won’t hurt. Just relax, it makes it easier for both the doctor and you.

speculum

Cells are gently scraped from the cervix area. The sample of cells is sent to a lab for examination. Not gonna lie, it’s a weird sensation having that spatula and small bristle-tipped brush in you. It feels a bit like a cramp, but mostly pressure. It’s nothing that you have felt before! And it’s very difficult to describe even though I’ve had it done three times now!

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Avoid scheduling your Pap test while you have your period because blood may make the Pap test results less accurate and I’m sure it’s gross for both you and your doctor to have to dig through your vagina while you’re bleeding. I also recommend emptying your bladder just before the test so you don’t accidentally pee on your doctor. Ideally, your doctor would take your urine sample just right before to check for UTIs/STIs.

Pap screening should start at age 21. You should have a Pap test every 3 years to check for cervical cancer. If you’ve never been sexually active, then technically you don’t have to, but since it’s covered under your insurance, you should still get it done.

If you are over age 30 and you also have HPV testing done, and both the Pap test and HPV test are normal, you can be tested every 5 years (HPV is the human papillomavirus, the virus that causes genital warts and cervical cancer).

Most women can stop having Pap tests after age 65 to 70 as long as they have had 3 negative tests within the past 10 years.

FYI = A pap smear is not a comprehensive STI check. Be sure to still get tested for gonorrhea, chlamydia, and HIV (blood test or cheek swab) at least once a year! All of these should be covered under your insurance. Stay tuned for our next article regarding the limitations of STI testing!


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Birth Control After A Baby

Congratulations – if you just had a baby, these are exciting times with many decisions! Are you ready for another one? The World Health Organization suggests that women wait 18 months between children for their and their future child’s maximum health.

If you’re holding off and wish to have another child in the future, these are some Long Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) options for you to consider, listed in order from most effective to least effective:

  1. IUD with hormone: this lasts for 5 to 7 years and makes your periods lighter. Some women have dull uterine ache for 3 months.
  2. IUD with copper: this lasts for 10-12 years, but may give you heavier and possibly more painful periods. However, it has no hormones.
  3. Implant: this lasts 3 years and has a side effect of irregular periods.
  4. Depo Provera shot: this last 3 months, but can affect your bone density, so make sure you get enough calcium (specifically 1500 mg per day) while taking this.
  5. NuvaRing: no side effects, just have to be comfortable inserting and taking out. Like a tampon but softer.
  6. Contraceptive Patch
  7. Birth Control pills (estrogen and progesterone)
  8. Condoms + spermicide  (for great options, check out Condom Depot)

If you are breastfeeding, you should wait until your baby is 1 month old to take methods 5-7, otherwise it might affect your breastmilk supply.

And if you are done with kids:

  • Vasectomy – the least invasive method for women, and very effective – 0.1% of women experience pregnancy in 1 yr when their partner gets this method done!
  • IUD with hormone beats tubal ligation in efficacy. 0.2% of women experience pregnancy in 1 yr on this method.
  • Tubal ligation 0.5% of women experience pregnancy in 1 yr on this method.

Bedsider Birth Control Support Network is a great resource for side effects, etc.

Pandia Health can help you with #s 5-7. If you need a prescription, we have doctors that can provide a consultation and write the prescription for birth control pills, patch, or vaginal ring. If you already have a prescription from your doctor, we can deliver your birth control to your mailbox, saving you the trip to the pharmacy every month.

Spend more time with your baby instead ❤

Mountain View