Reproductive healthcare is a hot-topic issue all over the globe. In the U.S., it’s no secret that reproductive health is lacking. With financial cuts to family planning services in the U.K., it’s also becoming an issue here.
No matter where you live or how strong the healthcare system is, educating yourself on how your body works and what you can do to take control of your reproductive health should be a priority.
Developing a greater understanding of these things will help you advocate at the doctor’s office, learn how to better take care of your body, and protect yourself when you’re in an intimate relationship.
Let’s look at some of the best things you can do to take charge of your reproductive health, even when the healthcare system seems to turn its back on you.
Educate Yourself On Reproductive Health
Knowledge is power.
We’ve all heard that saying, but likely never associated it with knowledge about your own body. However, learning as much as possible about how your body works and how to take care of your reproductive health will absolutely give you more power.
Start with the basics by learning how the human body functions. You probably know the “important” things, but understanding the details will help you recognize red flags and potential negative symptoms if they ever arise.
Next, know that your body is completely unique, and both researching and talking about sexual and reproductive health shouldn’t make you feel ashamed. In fact, the more people who are willing to open up about it, the less stigmatized the subjects will become.
Education is important for both your physical and mental health. There’s a strong connection between intimacy and mental health. Sexual dysfunction can have negative ramifications and lead to things like:
- Poor intimacy experiences
Additionally, conditions like PTSD and ADHD can impact your intimacy. Educating yourself on this connection will boost your confidence in your sexual health while inspiring you to take charge of both your physical and mental well-being.
Reach Out To Your Resources
You don’t have to walk this journey alone. While the Internet can be a great resource for educating and empowering yourself, sometimes it’s helpful to talk to experts in reproductive health to learn about your body and how to properly care for it.
With that in mind, consider finding an intimacy/reproductive therapist or psychiatrist to answer your questions and offer information. These professionals can guide you through subjects ranging from sexual activity to menopause, so you’ll be better equipped to recognize the signs of bodily changes and what they mean, including:
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness
- Weight fluctuation
- Mood changes
Working with a reproductive specialist will also empower you every time you visit the doctor. Most women probably wouldn’t rank a visit to the gynecologist as something enjoyable, but you should leave every appointment feeling confident that your questions were answered and you know what’s going on with your body. After working with a reproductive therapist, you’ll feel more comfortable talking about things like your own sexual history or any strange symptoms you might be experiencing. You’re also more likely to ask “embarrassing” sex questions that you might have kept to yourself before.
Protect Yourself And Your Health
Taking control of your reproductive health and educating yourself on how your body works will also help you protect yourself when you’re sexually active. STI rates remain high across the UK, and many of them can be prevented with a few proper precautions. Unfortunately, far too many people don’t take the time to protect themselves, or they don’t know how.
Some of the risk factors that increase the probability of contracting an STD include:
- Multiple sexual partners
- A partner with several sexual partners
- Intercourse with an infected person
- A history of STDs
You can protect yourself (and your partner) by talking to them about their sexual history and opening up about your own. It’s okay to ask someone if they are sexually active with other people, or if they’ve ever had an STD.
Most importantly, use protection when you’re sexually active. While nothing is 100% effective, protection will dramatically decrease your risk of developing an STI. If you’re with a single partner, talk about the type of protection that works best for both of you, and make a commitment to use it every time you engage in sexual intercourse.
Taking control of your reproductive health is really about prioritizing your mental and physical well-being. As a culture, the sooner we drop the “embarrassment” surrounding sexual health, the better off we’ll be. More people will start to open up, ask questions, and educate themselves on reproductive wellness. That will reduce our overall reliance on the government and private organizations because we can take proactive measures to keep ourselves healthier.
Don’t be afraid to speak up, ask difficult questions, and take pride in prioritizing your reproductive health.