While perusing the world wide interwebs in search of interesting fodder to talk about today, I stumbled across an excellent clearing house of information: Reproductive Health Reality Check, a website with a wealth of discussion about reproductive health. In addition to a regularly updated blog, the site also has brief fact sheets on a number of reproductive health issues, and a great “Fact v. Fiction” section which dispels myths surrounding reproductive health, women’s rights, self care, and so on. The site is a great source for people of any persuasion, although naturally it has a liberal lean (why else would I be recommending it?!) I think that many of their discussions are fair and balanced looks at serious issues, allowing readers to make their own educated and informed decisions.
The blog is a great place for newsflash information about decisions going on in the legislature and the nation, and around the world which affect reproductive health. It looks at access to health care, reproductive health funding, human rights, STDs and STIs, and so forth. All kinds of goodness, written by strong and reputable writers. The writers do a great job of examining what is going on in the world, the hidden language behind legislation, and how it affects readers of any gender. I would highly recommend making it a regular stop on your daily rounds.
The site is also informative and safe for younger readers, and I would highly recommend that the parents among my readership introduce the site to their teen and young adult children. Given that education about sexuality and reproductive health is very limited in the United States, I think it’s time for parents to get more assertive about helping their children to make informed decisions, and this site is a great place to start. Hopefully it will get some youth fired up about their reproductive health rights. Other great sources of sexual health education for youth include Scarleteen and Sex Talk.
Why care so much about reproductive health? Readers may have noticed that I’ve added a new top level category in the sidebar for my posts about sexuality and reproductive health. I don’t just believe it’s important because I’m a sexually active adult—I believe that caring about reproductive health is important for people of all ages, sexual orientations, and political beliefs.
To begin with, especially for women, control over reproductive rights is an important issue. Many states are trying to limit our access to birth control, abortion, and regular health care. For both sexes, the increasing limitations on sexual education should be a concern, because it is impossible to make informed and intelligent choices without the information in front of you. As a result, STIs are on the rise, with many people not really understanding the modes of STI transmission, and certainly not following up on potential exposures with testing and self care. Even if you’re not sexually active, surely you can recognize the need for informational access. And you should be aware that many STIs aren’t just transmitted sexually, and that therefore a rise of STIs reflects a risk to you whether or not you engage in sexual behaviour.
Globally, some of the most devastating diseases are linked with sexual modes of transmission. The stigma that follows reproductive health has made it difficult to identify, treat, and prevent these diseases, causing them to develop into global plagues. AIDS, for example, was not fully addressed by public health officials for several years after it was apparent that it was a major outbreak because it was perceived as a gay disease. Countless individuals could have avoided HIV transmission or received treatment sooner if major public health bodies had acted more quickly.
Politically, access to reproductive health care is heavily restricted in many countries, and plays a major role in political agendas. It is important to be informed about upcoming legislation, so that citizens are not in for an unpleasant surprise. Whatever arrangement of genitals you may have, your government has an unhealthy interest in it, so you might as well pay attention to what’s going on.
Sexual health is a taboo subject in many places, with misinformation, fear, and social stigma behind it. By educating yourself, you can also empower others, and in a world with a population this big, that’s probably a good idea. Remember kids: use barrier protection, get tested, and communicate!