Meridith C. is a Planned Parenthood patient, supporter, and intern who just completed a six-month Communications internship with Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota. Meridith chooses to be a Planned Parenthood patient for reasons both personal and political; she receives care from open, caring doctors who accept her identity and supports an organization she cares about.
Before coming to Planned Parenthood, Meridith went to a private practice for gynecological care, where she experienced extreme pain during her first pelvic exam. Her gynecologist described her pain as structural and gave her vaginal dilators to address her pain. Meridith didn’t feel totally comfortable with her first doctor and later sought care at Planned Parenthood, where her doctor diagnosed her with vaginismus.
“Knowing that Planned Parenthood is a given--I can go in and I will be treated completely fairly and I’ll be safe in that space, that totally nails the coffin shut for me as well on other [care providers].”
Meridith’s Planned Parenthood doctor was the first person to inform her that her pain wasn’t based in a structural difference, but rather is a response, a muscle tension. This information and conversation changed the way Meridith thought about her experience and empowered her to feel that she could take action to address her pain instead of being resigned to thinking “This is how my body is built and I just have to deal with it.”
As a patient at Planned Parenthood, Meridith feels she can ask questions about her vaginismus, how mental health and having partners of different genders and different kinds of sex male might play into her diagnosis. “It all just felt so much easier to talk about,” Meridith says about her conversation with her Planned Parenthood doctor.
Meridith appreciates Planned Parenthood’s informational, nonjudgmental care, something she was looking for in a healthcare provider. As a young queer woman, Meridith says “There’s so much judgment that comes around reproductive care and how sexually active someone is.” Meridith loves Planned Parenthood because she feels it’s an open, comfortable space to receive nonjudgmental health care.
“I remember just feeling so excited and blown away when I left,” she recalls of her first visit. Meridith is now a source of information for friends and peers about Planned Parenthood, especially after her experience as a Communications Intern.
“I feel very grateful to have the opportunity to see some of the inside workings [of Planned Parenthood] and to hear all the different stories that I’m hearing,” said Meridith. Her position involved gathering stories from Planned Parenthood patients, staff, advocates, and more. Meridith found that “not just every woman but every person has [a] story, and, as simple as it is, there are still so many details to how people get their health care.” We are grateful Meridith chose to share her health care story with us!