Talking about our reproductive health can help end the taboos and stigma around sex and contraception.
Ovaries before brovaries. Uteruses before duderuses.
Eleven years ago comedian Amy Poehler gifted us these fabulous phrases when her “Parks and Recreation” character, Leslie Knope, created Galentine’s Day―a celebration of female friendship the day before Valentine’s Day.
Since the episode premiered, Galentine’s Day has taken on a life of its own. Now women around the world brunch it up, gather with gal pals for a movie night or host events in their communities―from bingo nights to crafting workshops.
These are all great options, but I propose a new way to celebrate Galentine’s Day: Talk to your friends about contraception.
In a perfect world, we all would have had comprehensive, science-based sex education throughout our school-aged years. But that’s simply not the case. Only 39 states mandate sex education and only 17 of those require that it’s medically accurate. Twenty-nine states stress abstinence and only 20 states include information about contraception.
There are a lot of myths out there claiming that sex education programs will lead young people to have sex earlier or more. In reality, quality sex education has been shown to help young people delay sexual initiation. Additionally, when young people aren’t taught anything beyond abstinence-until-marriage, they are left in the dark about valuable ways to protect themselves.
Getting information about sex from your friends may not be the best resource when you’re in middle school and high school, but your adult friends can be enormously helpful. One study found that family and friends are second only to the internet in terms of where individuals look for information about contraception.
The internet is a great place to learn the basics about contraception methods, but drilling down into the details can unearth a lot of scary stories about negative side effects and anecdotal experiences. Even if these are true, you likely won’t get the full story. We all know how quickly consulting Dr. Google can spiral into a self-diagnosed terminal condition.
With your friends, you can have deeper, more candid and thoughtful conversations. They can also be an important sounding board while you’re making a decision.
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Talking with my friends was a critical part of my decision to transition from oral contraception to an intra-uterine device, or IUD.
I was worried about the cost, whether insurance would cover it and how successful it would be in preventing pregnancy. I was nervous about the procedure to put it in. And how would I know when it’s supposed to come out?
It felt so good to talk all of this through with my friends and to hear about their own experiences. They even had helpful pro-tips, like suggesting I bring a snack for after the insertion to bring up my blood sugar and combat any faintness.
Now that I’m living happily with my IUD, I try to pay it forward by singing its praises and always having condoms ready to give to friends who need them. The Center for Biological Diversity, where I work, has distributed more than a million Endangered Species Condoms as a way to get people talking about the link between human population growth and the wildlife extinction crisis.
Talking about our reproductive health can help end the taboos and stigma around sex and contraception. So this Galentine’s Day help support your gal pals and women everywhere, and liven up the brunch conversation, by talking about your sex life.
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