As anyone who's ever needed to go to a sexual health center will tell you, when you need to go, you need to go now. Whether it's because that guy you regrettably slept with last week is sheepishly confessing that, er, no, he didn't so much get "tested" as not at all or because you've run out of the pill right before your birthday, the wait before going to the clinic can be excruciating. Luckily for us all, here to bring us into the dream of the future is Planned Parenthood launching a "Video visit" online consultation service — complete with home delivery system.
This new, incredibly exciting idea is dubbed the "video visit," and even if all your reproductive needs are being met, you'll want to try it out. Here's how simply it works: You go onto the website. You click on the easy-to-see "Start Visit in Browser" button. You give them some basic information about yourself, you're connected with an available provider and — bam, you're online, asking (privately) for the patch. Or the pill. Or the ring. And it'll get sent to you. Discreetly, in plain packaging, no less.
Each session lasts only for 15 minutes — but for that length of time, you'll get personal, expert advice about your own reproductive options, from the comfort of your own couch. Sadly, as it stands, the project — which is even better than it sounds, because it's also an app — is only available in two states, Minnesota or Washington. So if you're not in one of those, you'll have to be patient. (And you can't fool the browser into thinking you're in Seattle. Trust me, I tried.)
Sure, the service costs $45 dollars, but think of the convenience. It's like Skyping your best friend, except the provider will actually advise you about (and send you) birth control, instead of just commiserating/eating chocolate/telling you that you probably won't get pregnant anyway. Said Sarah Stoesz, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota, to the Huffington Post:
Every generation of women is different from their mothers, and what’s different about the current generation of young women is that they live a whole lot of their lives online. We don’t want to be our mother’s Planned Parenthood, we want to be our daughter’s Planned Parenthood. This is one of the many ways we’re doing just that ... The sky’s the limit in terms of what’s coming next.Everywhere young women live they want access to Planned Parenthood, and we’re going to make sure we’re everywhere they are.
The program only launched last week, so for now, it's just focused on birth control services. Next month, though — and this is the really exciting bit — they'll be adding an STD counseling service. According to the Star Tribune, this will even include an at-home treatment kit they can send you, should the situation require it.
Of course, though, this has way bigger implications than pandering to your (my) own laziness. It's vitally important for those who might not be able to visit a center — for example, girls who wouldn't want their parents knowing about their sexual activity. Or anyone for whom the cost of getting to a center and back would be more than $45 dollars anyway.
There are only about 124 sexual health clinics spread across Minnesota's 86,943 square miles — it's not hard to imagine that those in more out-of-the-way areas might find it hard to access birth control and STD services. In Washington state, there are only about five centers per district. Add to that the fact that, according to a 2008 Guttmacher Institute poll, a whopping 45 and 48 percent of all pregnancies in Minnesota and Washington state were unintended — and, well, you can see why the video visits might just be a game changer.
Images: Nate Grigg/Flickr; Getty Images (2)