Women’s Health Week: Making Time for You and Your Health!

yogaThe following guest post comes to us via Stasee McKeny, Planned Parenthood Arizona’s community engagement intern.

Mother’s Day kicks off National Women’s Health Week (May 11 to 17), a week dedicated to empowering women to make health a priority in their lives.


After celebrating Mother’s Day, make health a priority throughout Women’s Health Week!


Making health a priority isn’t always easy for women. Women are more likely than men to avoid getting necessary health care because of the cost — 30 percent of insured women didn’t fill a prescription, 21 percent didn’t see a specialist, 24 percent skipped medical test treatment or follow-up, and 27 percent had a medical problem but didn’t see a health care provider. Affording health care is significantly more difficult for women who not only make less money than their male counterparts, but also use more health care services, like 12 months of birth control. Luckily, with health care reform, these disparities are slowly changing. Close to 27 million women with private health insurance gained expanded access to preventive health care services with no cost-sharing.

More women than ever now have access to affordable health care services and there is no better time to take advantage of this. During National Women’s Health Week, women are encouraged to do a number of things — whether it is making an appointment with a health care provider for a well-woman exam or deciding to eat healthy and exercise.

Why does National Women’s Health Week matter to Planned Parenthood Arizona? Planned Parenthood Arizona is the largest nonprofit reproductive health care provider in Arizona, and has close to 60,000 visits each year from women for a variety of preventive health care services, including life-saving cancer screenings, breast exams, contraception, sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment and, now, primary care. Planned Parenthood works to provide affordable, honest, compassionate care to ensure that women are able to lead healthier lives.

This year, you can celebrate National Women’s Health Week with Planned Parenthood Arizona — and enjoy five fun fitness events in two cities.

In Scottsdale, PPAZ is partnering up with a fabulous new local yoga studio, Funke Yoga.  Funke Yoga is adding three classes to their schedule during this week. The proceeds from the classes will go to Planned Parenthood Arizona to ensure we can continue to provide affordable health care services to women. Take the time out of your busy schedule and join Funke Yoga and Planned Parenthood for an evening to yourself. Reserve your spot today — space is limited!

In Yuma, PPAZ is hosting two free Zumba Classes on Thursday nights: May 8 and May 15. These classes will be held at Yuma Private Industry Council, MLK Youth Career Center, 300 S. 13th Ave. from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sunset Community Health Center will be there to provide blood pressure checks and there will be a raffle for fantastic prizes. Find more details here.

Let’s Talk Contraception: Birth Control Pills — Not Just for Preventing Pregnancy

pillThere has been a lot of political posturing recently about whether the government should require health insurance to provide birth control without a co-pay as part of a preventive health care package. So many people, including politicians, can only “see” the contraceptive side, which is pretty important, by the way. Approximately 15.8 in 100,000 women in the United States die from pregnancy or pregnancy-related issues yearly, and that number has doubled in the past 25 years. We have one of the worst maternal death rates of all developed nations, right near the bottom of the list.


Birth control pills can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including painful periods, acne, endometriosis, and uterine fibroids.


But putting all that aside, let’s look at the how oral contraceptives pills (OCPs) are actually used in this country, and for what reasons besides contraception. You may argue that many birth control pills are only approved for contraception purposes by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so other uses are not valid. But many drugs that may have narrow conditions of approved use are often prescribed off-label by physicians when they have data and information about how effective they can be for other conditions where not much else works.

According to a 2011 study using data from the 2006–2008 National Survey for Family Growth, the Guttmacher Institute reported that 14 percent of all women using birth control pills — that’s 1.5 million women — use them for purposes other than preventing pregnancy. Granted, 86 percent of OCP users report using them for birth control. But over the years, these OCPs have helped many people as treatments for dysmenorrhea, menorrhagia, endometriosis, menstrual-related migraines, acne, uterine fibroids, and polycystic ovarian syndrome. Continue reading

World AIDS Day: The Affordable Care Act Can Help in Creating the Healthiest Generation Ever

Editor’s Note: The following piece is a guest blog post from Planned Parenthood Arizona President and CEO Bryan Howard.

Yesterday was World AIDS Day and this year, as we work to raise awareness around HIV and gather support for those who are living with HIV/AIDS, we should also take a moment to recognize the profound impact that the Affordable Care Act will have on prevention, detection, and treatment of HIV/AIDS.


One in 5 people with HIV is unaware of his or her infection.


With the Affordable Care Act, 1.1 million Americans living with HIV will no longer be denied health insurance coverage because HIV is a “pre-existing condition.” More people living with HIV/AIDS will have access to affordable health insurance coverage to get the care they need, and millions of Americans will have access to preventive health care services that include HIV testing without a co-pay.

There is no doubt that we have come a long way in the fight against HIV/AIDS, especially given the advances of the ACA, yet the epidemic continues to affect millions of people throughout the world with some communities impacted more than others. In the United States, more than 56,000 people become infected with HIV each year. About one-third of new HIV cases are in young people, ages 13 to 29.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, there are more than 15,000 Arizonans living with HIV/AIDS with some of the highest rates in Maricopa and Pima counties.

As the largest nonprofit sexual health care provider in Arizona, Planned Parenthood is committed to reducing the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic by providing nonjudgmental, comprehensive, high-quality reproductive health care to all women, men, and young people.

Planned Parenthood Arizona has health centers throughout Arizona that provide a range of health care services, including HIV testing, STD testing and treatment, cancer screenings, birth control, vaccinations, and primary care. We also serve as an expert resource in medically accurate sexuality education.

As a trusted health care provider and sexual health educator, we strive to educate women, men, and young people about how to prevent HIV and other STDs. In addition to diligent condom use and regular STD screening, practicing abstinence and having one partner who has no other intimate partners can also help to reduce the risk of getting an STD (including HIV).

So, today I ask you to join Planned Parenthood in fighting for the healthiest generation ever.

About Bryan Howard: Bryan Howard is president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona and a board member at Reproductive Health Technology Project, a Washington, D.C.-based research organization.

Ron Barber Takes a Stand for Women’s Health

Editor’s Note: What follows is our unedited, exclusive interview with Ron Barber, the candidate who is running to complete Gabrielle Giffords’ term in Congressional District 8. Barber has worked with Giffords since she was elected to Congress in 2006, after which he became the head of her Tucson office. He is endorsed by both Giffords and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. Prior to his work with Giffords, he navigated bureaucratic red tape as head of the Southern Arizona branch of the state’s Division of Developmental Disabilities, advocating for vulnerable members of the community. With strong bipartisan support, and strong roots in Southern Arizona, Barber will stand for CD8 in Washington — but first, he needs your vote. The election will be held on June 12, 2012; you can also vote by early ballot.


“Our federal and state budgets should reflect our values and not the extreme positions of a few legislators.”


Please give me a little background on yourself: where you grew up, your education, how long you’ve lived in Tucson.

I have lived here in Southern Arizona most of my life, running a small business with my wife, Nancy, and helping solve community problems — whether it was heading up Congresswoman Giffords’ district operations to help people get results by cutting through federal agency red tape, or working for 35 years to look out for people with disabilities.

I was born in England, but went to high school in Tucson, where I met my wife, Nancy. We were high school sweethearts — we first started dating in 1960 and have been together ever since. I went to the University of Arizona, here in Tucson, and received a bachelor’s degree. I’ve lived in Tucson for over 50 years — my children and grandchildren all live here as well.

What women’s health care issues do you see will need to be addressed in the remainder of this legislative term and in the next?

Access to basic care is still a major issue for women’s health. We must ensure that regardless of state laws on abortions or funding, Planned Parenthood and other clinics continue to receive funds to provide basic health care to women — from cancer screenings to mammograms. Continue reading

Governor Brewer Is Imposing Her Beliefs on Arizonans

Editor’s Note: The following piece is a guest blog post from Planned Parenthood Arizona President and CEO Bryan Howard.

Gov. Jan Brewer isn’t shy about her goals. She wants to give government and employers power over women’s private medical decisions. She wants to undermine women’s access to reproductive health care. And she wants to take away public funding from every single Planned Parenthood health center in Arizona.


“I do not support the goals of Planned Parenthood. They believe in choice. So let’s just cut right through the fat and tell it like it is.” — Gov. Jan Brewer


Opponents of women’s health in the Arizona legislature have done everything they can to give Gov. Brewer whatever she wants. In the face of these relentless attacks, providing care to Arizona women and families has become more difficult than ever.

But I’m not giving up on our patients, and I’m not giving in to Gov. Brewer’s bullying. Neither are the doctors, nurses, staff, and volunteers at Planned Parenthood Arizona health centers. Arizona women continue to make their way to our 14 health centers to protect their health, and our doors will be open to them no matter what. And attacking Planned Parenthood in Arizona is attacking Planned Parenthood everywhere. Continue reading