“What is a clitoris and where is it located on my body?” “What are my reproductive rights in my state?” “Where is the nearest abortion clinic?” “What is birth control?” “What happens at a gynecologist appointment?”
Have you ever had questions like these pop into your head? Have you ever wondered how much you don’t know about your reproductive health and wished you could learn more? Well, all your questions could be answered right here! Here are the top 5 things we think you should know about your reproductive health along with some of our favorite resources that can help you be better prepared to make healthy decisions for you, your body, and your overall health.
1.) KNOW YOUR BODY.
Do you know where your clitoris is? Or what labia minora and labia majora are? What about a PC muscle? Knowing your body may seem obvious, but we’re betting you’re not able to name and locate every part of the female reproductive anatomy. Many sex education classes only educate students on men and boys’ bodies and fail to educate them about others’. But knowing your own reproductive anatomy is the single most important thing to know about your reproductive health! If you don’t know your body and the way(s) that it works, how will you be able to learn anything else? Thus, we have collected some helpful resources on reproductive sexual anatomy and sexuality for you to learn from and get to know your own body.
- On breasts and breast development, the hymen or vaginal corona, the cervix, the vulva and vagina, the PC or Pubococcygeus muscle (and Kegel exercises to strengthen the muscle and increase orgasm), and/or internal female reproductive organs such as the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries.
- On male and female reproductive and sexual anatomy.
- On DSD, or Differences of Sex Development.
- For information on masturbation and how to masturbate, click here and here.
2.) KNOW YOUR CYCLE.
How many days does your period cycle usually run? What form of birth control is right for you? What changes in your body can you expect and prepare for when you have your period? Knowing your menstrual cycle is very important to your reproductive health. Charting your menstrual cycle, for example, can determine your fertility window and help you avoid or enable pregnancy.
- Learn about the stages of the menstrual cycle and information about menarche, menopause and perimenopause.
- On what to do during your period, how to own your menstrual flow, physical and emotional changes during your period, and ways to relieve period cramps.
- On kinds of period flows, such as heavy bleeding, irregular cycles, light bleeding, or no bleeding at all.
- On birth control and determining which option is best for you!
3.) KNOW YOUR RIGHTS.
Do you know what your rights are in your state regarding reproductive healthcare, birth control coverage, and abortion access? Knowing your reproductive rights will educate you on your state’s laws, policies, and regulations regarding women’s health, which in turn could affect how you take care of your body! For example, you may learn
that your state provides free birth control which means you do not have to pay for it at all. Or, you could discover that the nearest abortion clinic to you is a long drive because your state lacks clinics and abortion providers due to laws and policies that restrict abortion healthcare. Click on the following for information about your reproductive rights!
- Reproductive rights, laws, and policies by state in Pro-Choice America’s 2015 report on Who Decides? The Status of Women’s Reproductive Rights in the United States.
- On laws affecting reproductive health and rights and abortion laws in the U.S. and in the world.
- On Roe v. Wade and attacks on the legislation and the recent pro-choice victory over the Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt decision, and what’s next in the fight for reproductive freedom.
4.) KNOW YOUR RESOURCES.
Some of the most important things for you to know about your reproductive health are your resources. It is always a good idea to ask questions about your health and how to care for your body, and there are so many resources that can help you navigate your reproductive health and answer all your burning questions. Doctors, nurses, gynecologists, and midwives are just a few of the kinds of people who know a lot about female reproductive health. Friends, sisters, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, mentors, and teachers are also great sources for you to turn to for answers. Click on the links below for more resources!
- On gynecologists and gynecologist appointments, such as what to expect for your first appointment, how to prepare for it, pap smears (here and here), and what a typical check-up looks like.
- On midwifery, nurse-midwives, and great resources such as the International Midwives website and the American College of Nurse-Midwives website.
- Our Bodies Ourselves, Planned Parenthood, the CDC or Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Reproductive Health Access Project.
5.) KNOW YOUR VOICE.
The last thing we think you should know about your reproductive health is your voice! Ultimately, your body is just that – yours. You know what’s right for it and what isn’t, so speak up if something is good and speak up if something is not. Do not be afraid to ask questions about your reproductive health – the more you know, the better!
Find your voice and get to know it well. It is okay to say yes and it is okay to say no. Your happiness, safety, and comfort is what’s most important when it comes to health, so don’t be afraid to be loud and proud about your body and reproductive and sexual health!
- Click here for information on body image and sex positivity.
- Learn about consent (here and here), how to maintain a healthy relationship, and what to do if you are in an abusive one.
- On gender identity, sexual orientation and their definitions.
- On practicing safe sex and sexually transmitted infections.