Back in the summer of 2016, I had just started dating the guy who would turn out to be my long-term boyfriend, the one I’m living with (and can’t seem to live without).

But back then, I didn’t know where our relationship was going. I did know that I wanted to keep seeing him on a regular basis and that I did not want to get pregnant. And where do you go when you don’t want to be pregnant? Planned Parenthood!

I did my research, because I wanted contraception that not even I could mess up, and I decided on Nexplanon, which is a hormonal implant that goes into your arm, right underneath the skin. Not a lot of people have heard of it, which is unfortunate, because it’s super effective and (depending on how your body reacts to hormones) can have the side effect of making you menstruate less.

I didn’t tell my family because I didn’t want them to know I was dating a man. I had come out as gay several years before and I was just dragging my feet with coming out again. (I did, eventually, and everything was fine.) It was one of the first really grown-up things I did by myself. I think it was the first time I ever went to the doctor alone. I made the appointments by myself; sorted out the insurance by myself. Fortunately, thanks to the Affordable Care Act (aka the dreaded Obamacare), the implant itself was covered, as is all contraception, and my hope is that my implant will outlast the current federal administration’s effort to repeal the ACA and its protective provisions.

Planned Parenthood gets a bad rap, usually by the right wing, as being one giant cabal of money-making murder orgies. That’s not what I saw. It was a regular doctor’s office, with more bowls full of free condoms. The only complaint I have about their services is that I didn’t realize I was going to give a urine sample when I got there, so I went to the bathroom beforehand, and then I ended up having to awkwardly chug like nine of those tiny water-cooler Dixie cups worth of water in the waiting room.

Did getting the implant hurt? No more than your average filling at the dentist. Was it expensive? No, in part because Planned Parenthood subsidizes their health care services for patients who don’t have insurance (as a cabal, it’s not very good at money-making, I must say). When I got it, the implant was approved and certified to prevent pregnancy for three years, after which you get it removed and replaced. (You can also remove if earlier if you want to get pregnant, but, as you might have noticed, I’ve had a lot going on these past few years.)

But, when I called last week to make an appointment to get my Nexplanon (I call it “Xena”) replaced, I found out that in the intervening 2¾ years, it had been approved to prevent pregnancy for FIVE years. So I signed up for three years – and got two free. What a deal!

In another excellent deal, Planned Parenthood is also insanely convenient – a one-stop shop for all your reproductive and reproductive-system-adjacent health needs (depending on the size of the clinic and services offered, of course).

When I got my implant done, in the same appointment, I also got a general battery of sexually transmitted infection tests and a pregnancy test, was offered a pap smear but didn’t need one, AND they checked my blood pressure (which, considering my levels of stress, was surprisingly normal). One time, I woke up with a urinary tract infection and called Planned Parenthood, and had an appointment by lunchtime. And believe me, if you’ve ever had a UTI, then you know, time is of the essence. No other doctor’s office I have ever been to has a response time like theirs.

Anyway, as Planned Parenthood and similar organizations have been on the front pages of the news recently, fighting back against rollbacks of abortion rights, there’s been a lot of negative stories going around about the organization, largely by people who have never been inside a Planned Parenthood clinic. As someone who has made use of their services, I feel a need to stick up for them.

Planned Parenthood is a wonderful resource. I am proud to be a patron. And to quote from “The A-Team” (my favorite show from the ′80s): “If you have a problem. .. if no one else can help … and if you can find them” … maybe you can visit a Planned Parenthood.

Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. She can be contacted at:

[email protected]

Twitter: mainemillennial

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