We want to make sure you have all the information you need about our services. We don’t turn anyone away and making sure that you are healthy and comfortable is our priority. Here are commonly asked questions and an overview of what to expect from your visit at Bridgercare:
- How do I make an appointment? You can make an appointment by calling (406) 587-0681. Feel free to ask any questions that you may have when you call. You can also schedule online at bridgercare.org/schedule. Teen Clinic, which is for people who are 19 and under, is every Monday from 3-5:30 pm and is walk-ins only.
- What will happen during the exam? If you are age 19 or younger and are coming for an annual exam, we’ll check your heart, lungs, thyroid, and belly. At age 25, we start to do breast exams to check for lumps. Anyone age 21 or older may need to have a pap smear or pelvic exam. If you come in for an STI test, you may need to provide a urine sample or a vaginal swab (you do this by yourself without the provider in the room). If an STI test requires blood drawn, then one of our providers will do that for you.
- Can I bring my partner, parent, or friend to the appointment with me? Yes! During the first part of your visit, you will meet with your provider in private so that you feel more comfortable disclosing personal information that you may be nervous talking about around your partner/parent/friend. However, after that first part is over you are welcome to have someone come into the room with you for the rest of your exam.
Privacy and Being Comfortable
- Do I have to answer very personal questions? The questions may seem personal, but we don’t ask them because we’re nosy. Rather, we ask them to assess your risk for things like certain sexually transmitted infections (STIs.) Please answer them to the best of your ability.
- I want to get on birth control, but do I have to undress during the appointment? You can get on birth control without having an exam, although to remain on birth control, all patients must have an annual wellness exam. Typically, undressing isn’t necessary until age 21 when most people with a cervix have pap smears.
- Will I be judged for my sexual experience? It’s true that our practitioners ask some very personal questions about the type of sexual activities you engage in and the number of partners you’ve had. However, we don’t do this to judge you, but rather to evaluate your risk of certain STIs and pregnancy. We just want to make sure we have all the information we need to keep you healthy!
- I know I should get an exam but I’m scared. What should I do? We understand that exams can be uncomfortable and bit nervewracking! Tell your provider when you first meet with them that you are nervous. We do everything we can to make you as comfortable as possible.
Why should I get tested?
- If I don’t have symptoms, why should I get tested? Many STIs such as HPV, Chlamydia, and gonorrhea (the most common STIs in Montana) often have no symptoms. Even without symptoms, you can pass these infections on to other people, and they can cause many side effects that can be harmful to your reproductive organs, or cause heart trouble and arthritis.
- What should my partner and I do if the condom breaks? If you were engaging in vaginal sex when the condom broke, and were not using another form of birth control, you may consider using emergency contraceptive within 72 hours. Whether you were having vaginal, anal, or oral sex, you may still wish to get tested. Please be aware that it can take 2-6 weeks for an STI test to show if you are infected.
- My partner and I are in a monogamous relationship. Should we still get tested? Being in a monogamous relationship will definitely decrease the likelihood you and your partner contracting an STI. However, if either of you have had vaginal, anal, or oral sex with even one other person in the past, we recommend getting tested for STIs.
- I would like to get on birth control and be tested for STIs, but my parents would kill me if they found out. What should I do? In the state of Montana, minors can see a health care provider to be tested or treated for sexually transmitted infections or to prevent or confirm a pregnancy without parental consent. In addition, our office is located on 14th and Oak (across from Kenyon Noble) and we won’t bill you insurance if you are concerned about your parents finding out. While we do encourage you to discuss your sexual and reproductive health with your family, we never require it, and all of our services are confidential and private!
- I’m nervous for my annual exam. We understand that wellness exams can be uncomfortable, but don’t be nervous! Our providers will make you will feel as comfortable as possible. Most of the exam we will just check your heart, lungs, thyroid, and belly. Starting at 25 we’ll exam breasts for suspicious lumps. Pap smears and pelvic exams usually don’t start until the age of 21.
- I can’t afford Bridgercare, what are my options? If you are 19 and under, we invite you to come to our Teen Clinic on Mondays from 3-5:30 pm. During Teen Clinic all appointments and services are free. If you come in on another day (outside of Teen Clinic), we can bill your insurance (if you’d like) or we will use our sliding fee scale to assess how much your visit may cost. We don’t turn anyone away – ever – due to inability to pay. We are happy to discuss potential costs with you over the phone when you call to make an appointment.