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Olivia Catalano, Reproductive Health Program Manager, Finger Lakes Community Health

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Since 1991 teen pregnancy has declined 51% and teen births have dropped 61% in the US. This progress should not be mistaken for victory. Nearly 1 in 4 teen girls will still get pregnant by age 20. With these declines, studies still show that nearly 50% of all pregnancies are unplanned and that women of color and women with low economic status are more likely to become pregnant.

We can continue to decrease these numbers by talking about sexual health thus reducing the stigma of this topic. By providing medically accurate comprehensive sex education and having access to medical services, we will further reduce teen pregnancy. Youth form their values and opinions from the adults in their life. If they see adults being uncomfortable with reproductive health, they will learn they should be too.

There are many medical options to prevent pregnancy. Birth control pills, taken daily, are still an effective choice. Newer options include Nexplanon which is inserted in the arm and reduces the risk of pregnancy for up to three years or the IUD which is good for up to 10 years. Preventative actions like this will continue to decrease teen pregnancy. Hormonal birth control has been proven to regulate, or decrease the length of the menstrual cycle, help hair grow, ease cramps, smooth your skin and even decrease odds of certain cancers. Both men and women should know how hormonal birth control works, how barrier methods work and be able to discuss these with their partner. When a young woman gets pregnant, so does the man. Shocking fact, I know.

There are still gaps in education for sexual health. The New York Times released an article titled, “When did Porn become Sex Ed?” which discussed how youth today are turning to porn to help them understand sex, how to protect themselves during sex, and what to expect in relationships. Using porn for this information, does not support healthy development or expectations for our youth.

We know that starting the conversation about sexual health is intimidating and tough. With almost 80% of media having some sexual content, we can’t ignore the fact that youth are exposed to it daily. We encourage you to start age appropriate conversations with youth in your life today. Keep the door open, support young people in your life and ensure they have strong self-esteem. We all need to do our part. By engaging teens, they are much more likely to make healthy reproductive choices which can lead to further educational achievement, healthier relationships, higher financial earnings and continue to decrease teen pregnancy rates.

About Finger Lakes Community Health

Finger Lakes Community Health is an independent healthcare organization, founded in 1989 as a provider of healthcare for agricultural workers. Services are now expanded to provide comprehensive healthcare including reproductive health for all ages. We have numerous health centers in the region, including Bath, Geneva, Newark, Ovid, Penn Yan, Port Byron, and Sodus, and Dundee Dental. Finger Lakes Community Health is a Federally Qualified Health Center through the federal government, receiving funds to assist uninsured patients.

Be sure to “Like us on Facebook” for updated information on reproductive health for all ages: Finger Lakes Community Health Reproductive Ed or Twitter at FLCH Reproductive Ed (@FCLHFPED) Visit our website or call Olivia to talk about this further at (315)521-0249. We’re here to help you with reproductive health education!