Millenials and Reproductive Health [Interview][Transcript]

Barb_Dehn_Millenials_Reproductive_HealthGuest: Barb Dehn
Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest Bio: Barb Dehn (Bayer spokesperson) is a practicing Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, award winning author, and a nationally recognized health expert. She holds a BS from Boston College and earned her Masters degree at the University of California, San Francisco. An in demand and popular national speaker on all aspects of women’s health, she also lectures at Stanford and is a frequent health expert on television. She has appeared on CBS, ABC, CNN, Good Morning America Now and NBC’s iVillageLive.

Segment overview: Barb Dehn (Bayer Spokesperson), and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, discusses the most effective form of contraception for millennial women, including LARCs (Skyla). Also discussed, what millenials as a whole should consider when making choices about their reproductive health.


Health Professional Radio – Millenials Reproductive Health

Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard, thank you so much for joining us today. A person reaching young adulthood around the year 2000 is known as well a “millennial.” Those are our kids, some of us that’s our grandkids and just like any other time in history they need to be taking care of their health in general. But for young women especially need to be particularly focused on taking care of their reproductive system. Our guest in studio today is Bayer spokesperson and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, Barb Dehn. She is returning to talk with us about some of the concerns that millennials should have and if they don’t have these concerns, how they can get information and become concerned about better reproductive health. How are you doing today Barb?

Barb Dehn: Neal, it’s great to talk with you again. Thanks for having me on.

N: Thanks you so much for returning. You know talking about millennials just like anyone else’s kids and grandkids, it’s our responsibility to kind of let them know that there are things that they need to take care of as they move into young adulthood – the finances, health. It’s easy to say “Hey take care of this, take care of that.” But it’s often a bit harder to give some guidance. What types of question should you ask and what are the answers that you should be looking for when those questions are asked when it comes to reproductive health?

B: Well I always recommend that as a parent or caregiver or grandparent that we ask, don’t tell. And we’ve try to find where that young person is in their own development or what their height their biggest concerns are because everybody is at different place. Some people are wondering how do you go out and have fun in college and still stay safe? Some are concerned about not getting pregnant and some are just concerned about how to deal with roommates, a new job, etc., etc. So I always like to ask first and spend a lot of time listening before I start giving advice.

N: Okay so basically find out where they are not only in their reproductive health and making those decisions, but find out we’re they coming from as a young adult in general.

B: Exactly and how do they make decisions.

N: Uh huh.

B: You know the other day I was talking to my niece and she had never been for a reproductive health visit ever. And she’s in her mid-20’s, she just never had access, she never had health insurance. She said “What do I do? What do I ask when I go in to see someone? I don’t even know where to start.” And so I gave her three tips and maybe I can pass them on.

N: Great.

B: So I said number one you should ask How often should I be coming in to see you? Number two “what kind of screening test do I need?” Because those Pap smear guidelines they change every 5 minutes, and also like do I need to be tested for sexually transmitted infection? Which ones, how often? And then the third question is “What kinds of things should I be thinking about when I think or consider what kind of birth control methods to use?”

N: Okay so when they’re considering what types of birth control they should use, how often does abstinence come into the picture?

B: Well abstinence does come into the picture for a very large group of people and they’ve made that choice with their partners. And sometimes with abstinence we talk about well ‘What is abstinence?’ Because some couples are having intimate contact with one another without having intercourse and yet they’re still at risk for some sexually transmitted infections and for pregnancy which many people are very surprised about. So we do talk about well ‘What your definition of abstinence?’

N: Absolutely.

B: So that we can clarify myths and help people make good choices, have fun and stay safe.

N: Excellent answer because we often look at abstinence as this blanket issue. It’s a catch-all for sexually transmitted diseases, emotional distress and we don’t delve into as you say abstinence from what specifically.

B: Yeah, Neal I do because I’m often surprise that how people define abstinence and also it helps us take and we really listen, I always say this to my students at Stanford.

N: Uh huh.

B: We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen to our patients twice as much as we talk. So we really want to find where that person is, what they are doing and how to help them make the best choices for their own health.

N: What about deciding when to conceive? What types of questions should they be considering when it comes to ‘How many kids do we want to have?” “Where do we want to live?” “What about schools?” “How do we want to educate our child?” Above and beyond just a sexual reproductive health. What about the things that come after conceptions?

B: I’m so glad that you asked that. I think so many times you know we all focus on a symbol, like I give you an example many times people focus on the wedding but not the marriage that lasts a long time. Or they focus on the 24 or to maybe 48 hours of giving birth, but not the parenting. And so I think that so often we kind of forget the forest for the trees. And one of the things I talk to my patients about is “Talk to me a little bit about what you envision for your future. To envision children in your future, when do you envision that? What’s the family side that you’re thinking about? And what kind of lifestyle would you like to lead? Are you thinking about working fulltime, are you thinking about working part-time? Would your partner be involved or not involved? Do you have a partner? And what have you guys talked about together if you’re in the partnership about parenting. Because so often people make a lot of assumptions about their partner, what they want. And then all of a sudden they’re pregnant and then “Gee, well I wasn’t really thinking about that.” They find out maybe later on. So I think it’s really good to help foster open communication between partners and that’s one of the things that we do is help women start to think about it and maybe give them some ideas for how to bring up these very personal topics with their partners.

N: Great. We’re here talking about women’s reproductive health. Now we all know about malpractice and we’ve heard horror stories about the wrong foot being amputated, that sort of thing. But the particularly disturbing stories that we hear are those concerning people dealing with women’s reproductive health. What types of questions should she ask a potential practitioner and what should she look for in those answers that an OBGYN is giving her?

B: Such a great question. I think that’s the most important thing is “trust.” And I think a lot that comes from your own gut and your own instinct. If you’re with healthcare provider and you’re talking to them, you’re picking up on a lot of signals from the office environment and somehow this person talks to you. Do they look you in the eye? Do you get a good feeling about them? Do you think you can trust them? When you ask questions and also well lot of question, any question, it really doesn’t matter.

N: Uh huh.

B: See how they answer it, are they respectful of you and where you’re at? Do they want to be a partner in your care with you? Are they talking to at your same level? And I think all of those things go to is this someone you feel comfortable with when you come to them with questions? I see myself and a lot of providers now, we see ourselves as partners in care as people who provide education, who dispel myths, and who help people make the best choices for them because again everybody comes from a different place. And we want to be listening, so we can say ‘Well based on what you’re telling me, this option might be better or that option might be better.’

N: You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard. And we’ve been in studio today talking with Bard Dehn, Bayer spokesperson and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, award winning author and nationally recognized health expert. Now she holds a BS from Boston College, earned her Master’s Degree at University of California, San Francisco and she’s an in demand and very popular national speaker as I said on all aspects of women health not just reproductive health. She also lectures at Stanford and is a very frequent health expert in television, appearing on CBS, ABC, CNN and many, many others. And it’s been great having you here with us today on Health Professional Radio thank you so much Barb.

B: It’s a pleasure to be here. Thanks so much.

N: Thank you. Transcript and audio of this program are available at and also at and you can subscribe to our podcast on iTunes.

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