Lewiston Family Planning: Additional Sexual Health Resources

Elizabeth LaCroix, Assistant News Editor

Located on Lisbon Street, directly across from Forage Market, is Lewiston Family Planning which offers a wide range of services and resources regarding sexual health. Lewiston Family Planning is part of a larger network of reproductive healthcare facilities in Maine under the name Maine Family Planning.

“Maine Family Planning provides affordable, gender-affirming reproductive health care services for all Mainers, as well as primary care, help for new parents and families, and transgender health services,” their website states

Sara Hayes, a nurse practitioner at Lewiston Family Planning, added to this mission statement. “We meet each person ‘where they are’ so to speak, and [we] realize that when they come to see us, it is often for an issue that is very important to them personally, even though it is an issue that we deal with frequently,” Hayes told The Student

In addition to the sexual health services provided by Bates Health Services, which is provided here, Lewiston Family Planning acts as an additional sexual health resource for Bates students. The Student has compiled a list of their services below, as well as methods to easily navigate the Maine Family Planning healthcare system with the hope of alerting students to all of the resources made available to them. 

Sexual Health Services

  • Birth Control Options: There is a full line of birth control options available in the clinic including Nexplanon arm implants, four types intrauterine devices (IUDs), depo shots (birth control shots), and birth control pills and rings. The birth control patch is also available by prescription from a pharmacy of your choice. 
  • STI Testing and Treatment: A full range of STI testing is available, including chlamydia and gonorrhea testing, in-office rapid HIV testing (15 minutes). Blood samples are also sent out to labs for syphilis, herpes, and hepatitis B and C testing. Treatment is also available in office, and they also offer home/dorm sample collection to reduce in-person contact for those wanting to get tested for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV. 
  • Other Testing and Treatment for Reproductive Health Issues: Evaluation, testing, and treatment for vaginal infections, male reproductive issues, urinary tract infections (UTIs), breast issues, bleeding problems, sexuality issues, and genital wart treatment are also available. There are also annual exams available and Pap tests for patients starting at the age of 21. In the case of abnormal Pap tests, evaluation is provided in-office along with colposcopies to look for signs of disease. 
  • Pregnancy Testing and Abortion Care: Testing for pregnancy and options counseling for positive tests are provided. Medication abortions are accessible through telehealth for up to eleven weeks after your last period. Aspiration abortions are provided up to 14 weeks and are only available in the Augusta Maine Family Planning office. 
  • HIV and HPV Prevention: PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) can be prescribed for HIV prevention. The Gardasil HPV vaccine is also available to uninsured patients under the age of 27. 

Transgender Healthcare Resources

Maine Family Planning currently offers gender affirming care to about 300 transgender people from all over the state. Including the Lewiston location, services are provided throughout the transitioning period for transgender patients. 

The initial evaluation visit is about an hour where the healthcare provider obtains background information from the patient relating to medical and social histories with particular attention to their narrative about their gender and the goals of their transition. During the first visit, the provider also goes over options with patients for how to medically achieve their transition, as well as a review of the risks, benefits, and expected side effects of medical transition. 

The informed consent model that is used does not require a transitioning patient to have an approval letter from a therapist, but resources are offered for counselors or therapists if it is needed. “We find that generally speaking, listening to people tell their stories is enough to get a sense that transitioning is an appropriate step for these people,” Hayes said. 

Rarely does Lewiston Family Planning require someone to be in therapy, but it is encouraged. “There are those times when someone is having substantial mental health issues without the support of a mental health professional, and in cases like that, we might require them to be established with a mental health professional before starting [hormone therapy], but this is a rare occurrence,” Hayes explained. 

Once the patient fully understands the risks and benefits of medical transitioning and has the capacity to freely give their consent, hormone therapy can be started. Referrals for gender affirming surgeries can also be made. For a full list of resources about transitioning visit the Maine Family Planning transgender health services page on their website. 

Affordability & Setting up an Appointment

Lewiston Family Planning has a sliding fee scale based on household income for patients who are uninsured, and they also accept all insurances. For those who are uninsured and have an individual income of under $27, 563 per year, they can apply for the limited family planning benefits through MaineCare which covers most visit, test, and medication costs. Transgender services are an exception and are not covered under MaineCare. 

To book an appointment, you can call 207-922-3222 or schedule one online using this link

If the visit is in-person, you will be given paperwork to do regarding registration and contact information. You will also be given the opportunity to sign up for their sliding fee scale if you choose to do so. If the appointment is virtual, these same questions will be asked verbally. 

“We offer and encourage virtual appointments when appropriate,” Hayes told The Student. Many appointments led themselves to virtual appointments, including those regarding transgender services, “peace of mind” STI testing, birth control visits, options counseling, and medication abortion appointments. 

Lewiston Family Planning — a Judgement Free Zone

The staff at Lewiston Family Planning recognize that the healthcare they provide is often very personal to the patient. “Our staff is amazing … professional yet caring. We all have a sense of humor so we aren’t a cold uncaring environment,” Hayes said. 

She also added that each staff member does their best to put the patient at ease and give them the personalized attention they deserve. 

In reference to her own guiding principles as a nurse practitioner, Hayes follows the Maya Angelou quote, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This is reflected in the overall goal at Lewiston Family Planning: to make each patient feel heard, valued, and cared for.