Categorized | Viewpoints

Sexual health is a responsiblity

Though we disagree on a number of social, political and ethical issues, my family continues to support my education at The College of Wooster and is willing, on occasion, to have thoughtful and respectful conversation about where it is we differ in opinion. Because of this, and for many other reasons, it’s important to me that we maintain a caring, respectful and supportive relationship — even while navigating difficult issues like my sexual health.

Growing up, I received the “abstinence-only” form of sex education, largely due to the religious influences that pervaded my childhood. In church and at home, I was taught that I had been “bought at a price” (yes, this is verbatim scripture) and should honor God with my body. As I neared adulthood, however, and as my family underwent some ideological crises, it became more and more apparent that this approach was, to say the very least, ill-advised.

As much as I would like to, I can’t say that I summoned up all my courage, sat my family down and gave them some grand and elegant monologue about the importance of women’s rights and sexual health. My decision to take accountability for my health and for my sex life revealed itself in baby steps — wobbly, timid, very un-elegant baby steps. By the end of this past summer, however, it became clear to both my family and myself that starting birth control was something I needed to do.

The process couldn’t have been easier. I scheduled an appointment at the Longbrake Student Wellness Center, filled out some paperwork, met with one of the Registered Nurses at the College’s Student Wellness Center and went home with my first pill cycle that afternoon. My family, though they were less than thrilled, met my decision with understanding of and respect for the responsibility I took for my sexual health and general well-being.

The simple fact is it took me far too long to make that decision. I got to a point where I was neglecting my health, my partners and, ultimately, my independence — all to avoid having an uncomfortable conversation. While there were a number of factors that ended up making that conversation much easier than I had anticipated, I still wish I had been responsible enough to talk to anyone about it before this year. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have avoided the more severe consequences of neglecting my reproductive health, and even more fortunate to have the financial resources, social support and access to healthcare that ultimately helped me finally take responsibility.

If there’s anything I can say to encourage those similarly situated, it’s that no one else can make decisions about your sexual and reproductive health but you. This fact comes with freedoms and responsibilities that often seem overwhelming or uncomfortable but that are nonetheless important to living a happy, healthy, safe life. If you are feeling overwhelmed by these responsibilities, I urge you to do what it took me way too long to do: talk to someone.

There is a wealth of resources at the College and in the greater community — including the Wellness Center, Vox, the Queer Student Union and Planned Parenthood — that are more than happy to help you tackle those responsibilities in a way that is safe, is nonjudgmental and, most importantly, helps you take care of you.

So please be safe, take care of yourself and remember: your body, your choice — sorry about it, 1 Corinthians 6:20.

Coral Ciupak, a Viewpoints Editor for the Voice, can be reached for comment at CCiupak19@wooster.edu

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