Medically reviewed by Sophia Yen, MD, MPH – Written by Pandia Health Editorial Team
Congratulations! You just graduated! Now what?
Transitioning from college to the real life can be overwhelming. This new chapter in your life is a time when you may be making big life changes. Maybe you’re starting a new job. Or moving to a new city. Or maybe you’re even getting married. The transition from college to the real world can be scary as there are so many things to remember and so many decisions to make.
Staying Healthy in Your 20’s
Healthcare is one of the things that you might not be thinking about in a post-college world but should. Sure, you’re probably young and healthy and maybe you think it’s enough to do what you’ve always been doing – eating healthy and working out.
Life after college means thinking about healthcare in a different way, especially when it comes to your reproductive health.
Managing your reproductive health is important for women in their 20’s because this is the time where you’re more likely to date around. The CDC reports that women in between the ages of 20-24 have a high rate of chlamydia because they are in the dating scene and are more likely to have multiple partners.
Knowing how to take care of yourself can help you make safer and healthier choices and reduce the risk for things ranging from urinary tract infections, to unplanned pregnancies.
4 Steps to Take Care of Yourself Like a Grown Up
1. Get Health Insurance
While buying health insurance isn’t as fun buying a new pair of shoes or as urgent as paying off your student loans, it’s something that will give you a peace of mind in case something happens.
CNBC has reported that medical bills is the number 1 cause of bankruptcies. If you have a car accident or even an unplanned pregnancy, not having health insurance will set you back financially more than you would if you have health insurance.
Your student health center can help you with post-graduation options and some schools may even have extended programs for new graduates. Schools in the University of California system like Berkeley, UCLA and UCSD allows graduates to extend their coverage for one semester or quarter after graduation. USC graduates who had paid the student health fee during the school year can pay $240 to access their student health center until August.
Check with your school’s student health center to see what your health insurance options are.
2. Stock up on Birth Control From Your Student Health Center
If you’re still covered under your student health insurance, get your birth control before your insurance expires, especially if you’re leaving the state.
Having birth control on hand will reduce “pill anxiety.” Pill anxiety is the stress you feel when you know you’re about to run out of birth control and you don’t have time to go to the pharmacy.
If you move to a new city or state, you’ll also have the extra stress of having to find a new doctor, make an appointment, wait to see the doctor, and then find time to go to the pharmacy to get your pills. And the consequence of not doing this? Potentially an unplanned pregnancy.
The easiest thing to do is to get your birth control through your student center before you leave. It’s one less thing to worry about.
3. Get a Primary Doctor
Finding a primary doctor is like dating. You may need to try a few physicians before you find one you really like.
It may be tempting to just go to urgent care but seeing the same doctor on a regular basis will ensure you get all the medical screenings and tests you need to stay healthy and more importantly, build medical history.
A 2014 Fertility and Sterility study has shown that approximately 50% of women of reproductive age have never discussed reproductive health with their medical provider. If you experience irregular periods or infertility, having a good medical history will help the doctor identify what the issue might be.
Dr. Charles Irwin Jr., director of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at UCSF suggests “Get yourself some kind of primary health care doctor or system. It might be a nurse practitioner or a gynecologist – but find some place that knows you.”
4. Automate Your Birth Control
Starting a new chapter in your life should not be disrupted by an unplanned pregnancy and the easiest way to prevent that is to automate your birth control.
Brick and mortar pharmacies have automated systems to remind you to pick up your birth control pills.
However there are online companies that make it even easier. New telemedicine companies like Pandia Health can ship your birth control directly to you wherever you are. And if you’ve moved to a new city and have not yet found a regular doctor to write out a new prescription, some companies have licensed doctors to evaluate you online so you’ll have a prescription for birth control.
Because these telemedicine companies are an emerging trend, how will you know which one to choose? Like choosing a local doctor, you will want to look at the credentials of the physician on staff. What school did they go to? How long have they been in practice? And beyond that, extra bonus points can be given if the doctor also involved with teaching or the community because that means they are seen as a thought leader in their field.
Automating your birth control is an easy way to simplify your life where you can skip the trip to the pharmacy and enjoy your new life as a new grad.
So welcome to the real world, Class of 2017! For those who have been out of school recently, what other tips would you have? Comment below!