Here at Intimina we are more than comfortable talking about periods, vagina, and sex, but that’s not the case for everyone.
It’s understandable why. Much of the world avoids these topics due to religious or moral beliefs, humility, discomfort, lack of knowledge, or all of the above.
The thing is, reproductive health is just that – health, and it is critical to our well-being that we be comfortable discussing it with ourselves, partners, our friends, possibly family, and certainly our health care providers.
The important things first…
What is reproductive health?
Reproductive health is a broad term for any topic that relates to our reproductive organs at all stages of life, including our vulva / vagina, uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries, breasts / breasts and hormones or Endocrine system.
Some issues that fall under the reproductive health category are sexually transmitted diseases and sexual wellbeing disorders such as Endometriosis and PCOS, Fertility and any outcome of pregnancy, aftercare, reproductive organ cancer, contraception, menstruation, hormone regulation and much more.
According to the United Nations Population Fund, reproductive health “Implies that humans are able to have satisfactory and safe sex lives, to reproduce and to choose freely if, when and how often.” You can expand this further to include people who are postmenopausal and still in dire need of reproductive health care.
Now that we understand what it is, it is important to understand why we need to normalize talking about reproductive health.
Education creates choices
Reproductive health care education can take many different forms. There are so many resources online (including this blog) as well as sex educators on social media and including online sex ed classes.
Education also means asking questions. Ask yourself, mentors, friends, and any family in whom you enjoy talking about these topics.
The more you know about your reproductive health, the more choices you have when navigating.
Unfortunately, your gynecologist probably doesn’t have the time to examine every detail of your reproductive health. So it’s important to have these conversations and learn exactly what questions you might want to ask your provider. Having more information about an appointment will help you stand up for yourself and ask more detailed questions.
Talking about it not only creates decisions, it can also be life-saving. Communicating any symptoms you have experienced with your provider and discussing them with colleagues can help you spot red flags that could represent a potentially life-threatening or painful disorder.
Our reproductive health is a big part of who we are. To be sexual beings who menstruate every month, deciding whether or not to procreate – all of these are incredibly intimate yet normal aspects of being in these human bodies.
The more we are able to comfortably discuss the blood, pain, and quirks that come with life, the more embodied we will feel.
Normalizing and educating yourself about some of the most natural aspects of life will help de-program any shame or insecurity we may have about our bodies. The more secure we feel in our body and talk about the pros and cons of how it works, the more secure we feel overall.
As difficult as it is to have these conversations, you will be surprised how quickly it can become completely normal for you. Which is an incredibly empowering feeling to have.
Here’s the thing, you need to talk about your reproductive health at some point so that you can get used to it just as well.
Of course, it’s not always that easy, especially when you are ashamed of sexual wellbeing and reproductive health – which is perfectly normal – but it’s important to test your comfort zone when it’s appropriate in context.
This will make it easier for you to talk to your health care providers about important issues.
If you decide to have children, or are already doing so, it will help you be comfortable with your own body to answer any questions they have. This of course integrates an uncomfortable “sex conversation” into a normal, indignant conversation.
It is also important to talk to your sexual partners about reproductive health. This means disclosing your STI status, asking about their status, and discussing other reproductive issues that can affect your sex life. Being open about what’s going on with your body can also help you relax and develop trust with your partners.
Not to mention, Discuss STIs, helps normalize them and destigmatizes any shame that you might be carrying around you.
A note on inclusivity
Though genders outside of cis men and cis women are nothing new, there has been a growing conversation about transgender and gender non-binary people.
It is important to understand the need to be involved in reproductive health conversations. Too often, transgender and non-binary people are left out of the picture, making them feel isolated or lacking access to safe, gender-affirming care.
You can read more about reproductive health care outside of gender binary here.