#WomensHealthAwareness: Reproductive Health

Caring for your reproductive health is imperative, especially now when college students are likelier to neglect their health because of the stressful demands of classes. You've probably heard how important it is to live well and take care of your body, but that extends to more than just eating right and regularly exercising. A healthy lifestyle encompasses so much more, and most people probably don't even realize that they should pay attention to reproductive health. This is why I have decided to create this article, to offer some tips on how to manage your reproductive health and encourage everyone to understand its importance.

 

1. Vaccinations

If you're like me, then the idea of needles surely causes you discomfort. I can't even tolerate looking at a needle before I start growing lightheaded and nauseated. However, vaccinations are necessary, so I muster as much courage as I can when visiting the doctor. As it pertains to reproductive health, one of the most important vaccinations young girls can receive is called HPV. This vaccination protects against two, four, or 9 types of HPV, depending on what you get. I know Gardasil and Gardasil 9 protect against certain types of HPV, so it's important you talk to your doctor about what works best for you. Regardless, all HPV vaccinations fight against HPV type 16 and 18, both of which drastically increase your chance of getting cervical cancer. Take the time to research this vaccination, as it is highly recommended for young women through the age of 26.

2. Safe Sex

Practicing safe sex is not just important for yourself, but for your partner as well. I found some great information from Planned Parenthood offering a variety of ways you can practice safe sex. 

  • Be forward with your partner about your sexual history, and ask for theirs as well. 
  • Use a barrier when engaging in sexual activity. For example, and perhaps most well-known, use a condom.
  • Get tested for STD's regularly because most people won't even experience any symptoms.
  • Avoid drinking too much alcohol as it can drastically affect your ability to make smart decisions.

3. Choose your birth control wisely

Always talk to your doctor before deciding on what birth control would work best for you. There are so many different options, and some birth controls have different side effects that you should be aware of. I know some of the most popular options are the birth control pill, IUD, and birth control shot. However, when I was doing the research for this article, I wasn't even aware of the birth control patch. It works a lot like the pill, but you have to replace it every week. Take some time to sit down and research your options. And before jumping in and deciding, schedule an appointment with your doctor.

4. Tracking your menstruation cycle

Yes, this seems like an insignificant inclusion, but I promise it will make your life so much better. Why? Because it will improve your relationship with your own body, as you will have a better understanding of knowing when your next period will happen, so you can plan accordingly. I found online that most people find themselves in the 21-35 day cycle range, with the average period lasting 4-5 days. I hate it when I wake up to go to class only to be greeted by those painful abdominal cramps. However, by keeping track of my cycle, I can take medicine like Ibuprofen to lessen the effects of the cramping. If you're not an old-fashioned calendar person like me, there are plenty of apps you can download to track your cycle:

  • Clue: Period and Health Tracker (most recommended)
  • Fitbit (which can not only tell you when your next period will be, but can also track where you are in your cycle)
  • Period Tracker Life (Just press a button when your period starts)

5. Good Hygiene

We should all be practicing good hygiene anyway, but maybe some people don't really know how. Firstly, good hygiene indicates cleanliness. In order to achieve this cleanliness, there are several things we can all do to keep our bodies in tip-top shape:

  • Adequate Rest (which includes, perhaps to your chagrin, not sleeping in on the weekends. Try to go to sleep and wake up at roughly the same times every day)
  • Regular Bathing (I know, it seems obvious, but during menstruation, this is especially important)

 

What other reproductive health tips do you know?