The Importance of STI Screening Even If You Don’t Have Any Symptoms

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are something most of us don’t like to think about. But did you know that you could have an STI without feeling any symptoms? Knowledge is empowering. At Willow Womens Center, our licensed medical professionals provide unbiased information to help you make informed decisions about your health.

Stay Informed

Reported cases of STIs have increased each year since 2001. There are approximately 20 million new STI cases reported each year in the United States alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), even though 15-24-year-olds only make up 25% of the population that are sexually active, they account for approximately 66% of new infections each year. Many of these infections have symptoms that are hardly noticeable or even symptomless. Because of this, it is important to be tested even if you are not aware of any symptoms.

Why STI Screening?

Here are some reasons why the CDC recommends yearly STI screening for chlamydia and gonorrhea for any woman under 25 who is sexually active.

1. If you are sexually active, nothing is 100% effective against STIs.

  • You might be thinking, “But I am in a monogamous relationship.” You might be, but is your partner? The tough reality is that many people contract STIs thinking they were in mutually monogamous relationships.

  • Or, maybe you are thinking, “We use condoms every time.” It’s true that the correct use of condoms reduces the chances of getting an STI, but this is not failsafe.

2. The majority of STIs don’t have any noticeable symptoms.

It is hard to imagine that you can have an infection without symptoms, but that is exactly how hidden most STIs can be!

  • Chlamydia: Chlamydia is nicknamed the “silent” infection since most people don’t notice any symptoms. Untreated chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, scar tissue in fallopian tubes, infertility, and future ectopic pregnancies (a pregnancy in a blocked fallopian tube). The good news is that chlamydia is completely curable when it is diagnosed and treated with antibiotics.

  • Gonorrhea: Like chlamydia, most people infected with gonorrhea will not experience any symptoms. Untreated, it can put a person at higher risk of getting HIV and other life-threatening infections in addition to the same risks as untreated chlamydia. Gonorrhea is also curable with antibiotics.

3. There can be serious health risks if STIs are left untreated.

If an STI is left undiagnosed and untreated, it can lead to more people becoming infected, infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), chronic pain, and cancer.

It is very important for a woman’s health to be tested for STIs before an abortion. If a woman has an abortion with an untreated STI, it can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), infertility, and pain. For this reason, we screen for chlamydia and gonorrhea when a woman is considering abortion.

No-Cost Services Available

You can make an appointment at Willow Womens Center for our no-cost services by giving us a call at 608-312-2025. We understand the important decisions you are facing. We walk with you every step of the way, so you feel empowered to make a confident decision for your health and your future.

Real Answers to Your Questions About Abortion

When you find out you’re unexpectedly pregnant, it’s a really chaotic, confusing, and emotional time. You might not know who to talk to, where to turn, or what to do. Once the haze clears a bit and you start processing what is happening, it’s not unusual to seek real answers to your questions about abortion. 

There are far more questions than we can possibly answer here, and the questions each person asks will vary depending on their situation, age, future plans, dreams, and more. Below are the most common questions women ask. If you have any that are not addressed here, we are always available to provide answers at Willow Womens Center

Questions About Abortion 

Q: What is abortion? 

A: Abortion is the termination of pregnancy using either pills or surgery. 

Q: Is abortion safe? 

A: According to the Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services, “An abortion is a medical procedure that always involves risk to the woman. At or prior to eight weeks after the first day of the last normal menstrual period is considered the safest time for a woman to have an abortion. The complication rate doubles with each two-week period after that time.” 

Q: Who are the women that have abortions? 

A: They come from all backgrounds, including race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and religion.

Q: Are there alternatives to abortion? 

A: Yes, adoption and parenting are your other choices. Both involve taking the pregnancy to full term. Adoption means you will not do the parenting yourself, while parenting means you will take on that responsibility. 

Q: Where are abortions performed? 

A: They can be performed in doctor’s offices, hospitals, and non-specialized clinics, but the majority are done in clinics that exist for only that purpose. 

Q: Where can I get an abortion? 

A: Abortion is legal in all 50 states, but the nearest clinic to you could be quite a distance away. Some states only have one provider. 

Q: What is medication abortion? 

Medication abortion is also known as the abortion pill, a combination of two pills taken separately. This procedure is done for women up to 10 weeks pregnant. The first pill blocks progesterone in your body. Two days later you will take the second pill. You will make a final visit a couple of weeks later to the clinic to make sure the abortion was completed.

Q: What is medical abortion? 

A: Two primary procedures are done, depending on gestational age. Aspiration can be done within seven weeks and uses dilators and a suction tube. Suction Curettage is most commonly done, between six and 14 weeks. Again, this uses dilators and a suction machine. 

Let Us Answer Your Other Questions 

At Willow Womens Center, we are here for you. Make an appointment to come in and let us give you a no-cost pregnancy test to confirm your at home results because sometimes those tests are wrong. After that, we will sit down with you, answer your questions, and give you the information you need to make a confident decision for your future.

STI Screenings: Why It’s Important

If you just found out you are unexpectedly pregnant, a lot of things will be going through your mind, right along with fear, panic and a feeling that nothing will be the same again. That is understandable and knowing you have some decisions to make may only add to the anxiety.

If you decided to get an abortion, or are thinking about it, you need to know about STI screenings and why they are important. Before you brush it off, thinking you can’t possibly have a sexually transmitted infection (STI), you should know that there are a lot of women out there who have said the same thing and still ended up with positive test results.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cautions, “Many STIs are ‘silent,’ or have no symptoms, so you may not know if you are infected.”

Consider the Statistics

According to the American Sexual Health Association, “One in two sexually active persons will contract an STI by age 25. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that nearly 20 million new STIs occur every year in this country, half of those among young people aged 15–24. Even though young people account for half of new STI cases, a recent survey showed only about 12 percent were tested for STIs in the last year. The CDC estimates that undiagnosed STIs cause 24,000 women to become infertile each year.”

“In 2015, rates of the three most common reportable STIs — chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis — reached a record high level. The approximately 1.5 million reported cases of chlamydia represent the highest number of annual cases of any condition ever reported to CDC…In women, undiagnosed and untreated chlamydia and gonorrhea can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). According to the CDC, one in eight women with a history of PID experience difficulties getting pregnant.”

In addition, PID can cause scarring of the fallopian tubes, a condition that increases the risk of an ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancies cannot proceed normally and may cause life-threatening complications.

Pre-Abortion Screening

Women seeking abortions are not routinely tested for STIs. At Willow Womens Center, we offer this testing to help women avoid serious health problems in the future.

The process is simple and straightforward. Make an appointment to come in for testing. During your visit one of our licensed medical staff members will administer a no-cost pregnancy test. Some home tests are not reliable and this will confirm if you are pregnant.

If the test is positive, an ultrasound is done at no cost to you. This test uses sound waves to form an image and will tell you if the pregnancy is viable, if it’s ectopic, and will determine how far along your pregnancy is. This is an important step because 20 percent of pregnancies result in miscarriage and 80 percent of miscarriages happen in the first 13 weeks.

Once the ultrasound is completed, we will test for two STIs, chlamydia and gonorrhea, at no charge to you. If test results are positive, we do provide a prescription for the treatment of chlamydia and we give referrals for treatment of gonorrhea.

Our patient care team consists of licensed medical professionals and advocates specializing in serving women who face unplanned pregnancies and understand the personal nature of pregnancy and abortion decisions. We will carefully listen to your needs and help you walk through all of your options, so you can be confident in your decision. Contact us today.


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Supporting Youth With Challenging Pasts Parenting Class

Despite our best efforts, we can’t always protect those in our care from experiencing trauma. Children who witness domestic violence, lose a loved one suddenly or violently, live through a national disaster or terrorist attack, or who experience other forms of trauma may have lasting effects that require thoughtful and informed parenting approaches. Raising a child who has been impacted by trauma can make it scary to think about having another child – and especially about parenting again. The more you know about the impact of adverse events on child development and appropriate parental interventions, the easier it becomes to achieve peace in your home and prepare your child for a successful and fulfilling life. Willow Womens Center empowers all those who play a role in the lives of youth who have experienced adversity to provide the support they need through their completely free Supporting Youth with Challenging Pasts class.

Supporting Youth with Challenging Pasts Class

Love and Logic: Adults Supporting Youth with Challenging Pasts® is designed to provide parents (including foster and adoptive parents), teachers, psychologists, and counselors with the tools they need to understand the effects of trauma on youth, meet the needs of children who have experienced challenging and painful situations, and care for themselves as they do so.

Caring for children who have experienced trauma can be especially challenging. In fact, the approaches that work with a child who hasn’t experienced trauma may not be well-received by a child who has, leaving the child feeling unsupported and struggling and you overwhelmed and feeling like a failure. The result is often defiance, power struggle, conflict, and in many cases, serious long-term consequences. For many parents, the thought of having more children is overwhelming until they really understand the role trauma has played in the difficulties they and their child have faced and they have the tools they need to overcome those challenges together.

With a better understanding of how these children think and behave and what kind of support they need from the adults in their lives, you can care for them in a way that reduces their suffering and encourages their emotional health and long-term success. When you take the Supporting Youth with Challenging Pasts class at Willow Womens Center, you can expect to learn:

  • How trauma impacts social, emotional, and behavioral development
  • How to deal with unhealthy behaviors like defiance with love and empathy – in a way that works and teaches responsibility and natural consequences
  • The importance of empathy (versus sympathy) and how to demonstrate it in your interactions
  • How to set limits to prevent power struggles and develop healthy boundaries
  • Social and emotional barriers to learning and how you can help
  • How to empower children toward success in life: building self-competence, identifying strengths, learning responsibility, and more

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What can Affect a Child’s Mental Health?

It’s a common misconception that only foster and adoptive parents have children with challenging pasts. The truth is that children born into loving homes can experience adversity, too. All parents can find themselves raising a child who has experienced trauma or who is facing mental health challenges.

Situations that can affect a child’s mental health include:

  • surviving a life-threatening illness or accident
  • being abused physically, sexually, or psychologically in any setting
  • losing a loved one violently or suddenly
  • neglect or even poverty – not having their basic needs met
  • living in a country in active war or escaping as a refugee
  • attachment problems due to postpartum depression, an absent parent, or other issues
  • divorce or the sudden departure of a parent
  • bullying at school or in other settings

This list is not exhaustive; other factors can affect a child’s mental health as well. No family is immune from mental health challenges.

What is the Most Compelling Reason to Take Parenting Classes?

Parenting classes give you the tools, resources, and support you need to be the best parent you can be. Whether you grew up with parents who were great role models or no role model at all, parenting is challenging. It looks easy from the armchair but it’s not black and white in practice. The single most impactful step you can take to up your game is to prepare yourself by learning how children think and behave, what they need from the adults in their lives, and how you can provide it for them in a way that offers both love and the lessons they need to lead happy, successful lives. Parents who have taken a parenting class:

  • are more competent, effective, and satisfied
  • have higher self-esteem
  • practice positive parenting practices like planned discipline and positive language
  • have more social connections with other parents who can provide support
  • notice improvement in the behavior of their children (sharing and empathy, for example)
  • have better interactions with their children
  • see short-term improvements in their own mental health
  • are at lower risk of abusing their children or using corporal punishment

Furthermore, parents of children with challenging pasts simply cannot navigate it alone. Parenting these children requires a support network and a strong understanding of the lasting impact of trauma and the most successful approaches to parenting through trauma.

Willow Womens Center Classes and Services

Willow Womens Center offers several classes for parents and other adults who play a role in the lives of children. Whetheryou have just learned that you are pregnant and you are trying to make a decision or you already have children at home, consider enrolling in one of the parenting classes at Willow Womens Center. Meet other parents who are facing some of the same challenges as you, get insight into why your children think and behave the way they do, and learn how to stop the power struggle and achieve peace in your home. Willow Womens Center is located in Beloit, WI, and offers confidential pregnancy testing and counseling, STD screening, ultrasounds, and free parenting classes. You can schedule an appointment online with our compassionate team today.

Early Childhood Parenting Class in Beloit, WI

Finding out that you are pregnant when you least expect it can be scary. Among questions such as, “Can I afford this?” and, “Do I want to be a parent right now?” you may wonder “Do I know how to be a parent right now?” At Willow Womens Center, we aim to remove barriers to parenthood so that when you are faced with those decisions, you can make the most empowered, informed decision possible. One of the ways we remove those barriers is by offering no-cost parenting classes designed to teach the skills new parents need to be successful. After attending one of these free classes, parents feel much more confident in their ability to raise a child who will lead a happy, successful life of their own. Then, when you have all the tools and resources you need, you can focus on making a decision on the pregnancy without all those barriers in the way.

Early Childhood Class

Early Childhood Parenting Made Fun® teaches parents of children ages birth through six how to:

  • create an environment at home that encourages responsibility, academic achievement, and resiliency
  • parent through challenging behaviors
  • set healthy limits without fights and power struggles
  • use natural consequences rather than punishment to teach responsibility and character
  • teach their children how to solve problems
  • prepare their children to resist dangerous behaviors like violence, drugs, and alcohol as they get older

The class uses a combination of readings, videos, and group discussions and exercises and offers parents and expecting parents an opportunity to practice each skill as they learn it. It also gives them an opportunity to hear from and connect with other parents in similar situations, which can help them build a support network and feel less alone as they face the challenges of parenting young children.

After taking this class, you will be well prepared to avoid arguments, handle meltdowns, set limits without getting angry, and respond to misbehavior. You will have a better understanding of how children think, why they behave the way they do, and how your response affects the outcome of every situation. Most importantly, you will have the tools and resources you need to encourage the behaviors you want, while creating a safe place where your child feels loved and supported.

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How Effective are Parenting Classes?

Studies have shown that parenting classes are effective in both improving the well-being of parents and improving outcomes for children. Classes are effective whether you take them when you learn that you are expecting, after your children are born, or even when their behavior is already veering off course. It is never too late to invest in your own growth as a parent.

At Willow Womens Center, we know that parenting classes remove only one barrier for men and women facing unplanned pregnancy, and other support is needed for those who choose to move forward with pregnancy and parenting. We partner with other agencies to ensure families have the long-term tools and resources they need to be successful. Those tools and resources might include help with finances, budgeting, housing, health insurance, mental health, domestic violence, basic supplies, and more.

Why is Parenting Education Important?

Very few of us are born with the skills we need to parent children through all ages and stages. Parenting is easiest when we have a variety of tools in our toolbox to parent through common challenges in a healthy way. Proven benefits of parenting education:

  • Decreases the risk of child abuse. Parenting classes help you learn how to prevent situations from escalating and how to issue natural consequences instead of punishments.
  • Improves parental self-esteem. Parents who have taken parenting classes are more competent parents, better able to navigate the challenges that accompany raising children, and their self-esteem grows as a result.
  • Improves the behavior of your child. The children of parents who have taken classes are more likely to engage in positive behaviors such as sharing and empathy, and less likely to engage in negative behaviors such as aggression.
  • Improves your interactions with your child. Parenting classes can help you better understand your child, communicate with your child, and connect with your child.
  • Empowers you to apply positive parenting practices. When you are equipped with the education you need, you will be more likely to nurture your child using routines, positive language, and planned discipline.
  • Helps connect parents. Parenting classes provide an opportunity for parents to build relationships with one another, forming a network of friendship and support.
  • Improves parental mental health. Parents who have the education they need to be successful in raising children experience reduced anxiety and depression.

Parenting classes can benefit everyone, but they are especially beneficial for those who haven’t seen successful parenting in their own life story. If you grew up in a home with ineffective parenting and you have faced challenges and difficult emotions because of it, parenting classes can help you feel more empowered to break the cycle and give your children the comfort, safety, and support they need to lead healthy, happy lives into adulthood.

Willow Womens Center Classes and Services

Do you think you might be pregnant? Willow Womens Center can help. We offer pregnancy tests, confirmation ultrasounds, pregnancy options counseling (adoption, abortion, parenting), testing for sexually transmitted infections, free parenting classes, and referrals to other providers and agencies. We serve as a first point of contact for women and their partners facing an unplanned pregnancy, providing unbiased, compassionate support that promotes your health and well-being and an informed, educated decision that you feel comfortable with in the future. You can schedule an appointment today with full confidence that we will safeguard your private information and provide judgment-free care from the moment you connect with us. We know how overwhelming an unplanned pregnancy can be, and our only goal is to serve as an ally and a support for you as you work through these critical next steps in your journey.