Take responsibiltiy for your sexual health

April was Sexually Transmitted Diseases Awareness month. Our coalition partner Planned Parenthood refers to it as Get Yourself Tested Month – which we think it an important call to action.

The month was aimed at promoting education, prevention, and of course, getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Because really, getting tested is pretty easy.

Sure, it’s not something you look forward to – but if you aren’t getting tested then you aren’t taking responsibility for your own health or the health of your sexual partner(s).

And it’s not just something you need to do in your 30s. Teens and young adults account for more than half of the cases of Gonorrhea in South Dakota and there were 707 cases reported in the state during 2012. What’s more, a sexually active teen who does not use contraception has a 90-percent chance of becoming pregnant within a year.

Regardless of your age: sex comes with responsibilities. It’s important to protect yourself by using condoms – other contraceptives do not protect against STDs. It’s also important to talk about your sexual history, and that of your would-be partner, before having sex (wait until after and you might be unpleasantly surprised). Get tested for STDs. Ask your doctor questions.

Getting tested is even more important because some STDs, like Chlamydia, don’t always present symptoms. Up to 75 percent of women with Chlamydia don’t have symptoms, which is dangerous because left untreated Chlamydia can lead to complications such as inflammation, infertility or miscarriage. But again, it is completely treatable if caught early. In 2012 alone there were 3,922 cases of Chlamydia reported in South Dakota.

The statistics aren’t great: 1 in 2 sexually active people will get a STD by the age of 25. So in other words, if you get a STD, you’re not alone. But there is good news – some STDs are curable and all are treatable.

So, if you didn’t get around to it in April, you should still go out and celebrate Get Yourself Tested Month the right way – by taking responsibility for your sexual well-being today. While April may be the month when we celebrate it officially, taking responsibility for your sexual health is important throughout the year.

Bro-Choice = Pro-Choice

The “Bro-Choice” campaign created by Choice USA is ending their celebration of a “Week of Visibility” to call attention to Sexual Assault Awareness month, as the project expands to include conversations on rape culture and sexual assault prevention.

But we wanted to take a moment and go back to the original goal of Bro-Choice, which is “disrupting the dominant narrative that reproductive justice is a ‘women’s issue.’”

The Bro-Choice project lifts up the work that young men are doing for reproductive justice – and we were just thinking today about how fortunate we are to have pro-choice men who consistently support our work in South Dakota.

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At the center of the fight for reproductive justice ourselves, NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota knows that our movement is dominated mostly by ladies – because it is the rights of the female body that are in question. But there are men who fight alongside the strong women of this movement, and it’s refreshing to see them trust women and advocate for female bodily autonomy in this state.

Bro-choice men know that reproductive oppression affects them personally, along with the ones they love. Attacks on reproductive freedom restrict a family’s ability to make choices about their pregnancies – choices that expectant mothers AND fathers should make together. Family planning benefits the entire family unit – both parents and their children. Just because a woman herself carries a pregnancy, doesn’t mean that a man isn’t equally involved and invested in the process and product. What’s more, access to comprehensive sex education is beneficial to all genders and reproductive health clinics, which offer services such as STD testing and education, serve both women and men.

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When it often seems as though South Dakota is filled with men who want to legislate and regulate women’s bodies (especially in Pierre), it’s encouraging to know that there are men who acknowledge that only a woman herself can and should by in charge of her reproductive present and future.

If you’re a lady who knows a Bro-Choice man, be sure to give him a shout-out comment on this blog post or our Facebook page or Twitter.

If you’re a gentleman who is Bro-Choice, know that we are grateful to have you with us in the on-going fight for reproductive justice.

You can become a part of the Bro-Choice movement by signing the pledge to become part of the solution here: bit.ly/BroChoicePledge.

Also, feel free to tweet @naralsd why you are #BroChoice.

Keep up the good work, ladies AND GENTS.

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