Category Archives: STDs

May We Suggest a New Year’s Revolution?

It’s January, which means it’s New Year’s Resolution season. Maybe you resolved to take good care of your health, to give back to your community, or to save more money.  Because taking care of ourselves can be a political act (as Audre Lorde reminded us), might we suggest you make a New Year’s Revolution, instead?

Whether or not your resolution feels revolutionary, there’s something nice about a new year and a fresh start– and it’s especially satisfying to know you’ve done something kind for yourself (we can help!). Continue reading

Back-to-Campus Supplies: Textbooks, Laptop… Birth Control!

Late August in Maine means that many of us are furiously trying to fit studentin a few more lake days, gorging on lobster rolls and ice cream, and squeezing every last drop out of these long, warm days. For some, the end of summer means getting ready to head to college. Those back-to-school days can be absolutely exhilarating, but the to-do lists can also be a little daunting: spend quality time with your family and friends before you go, register for classes, buy books, connect with roommate(s), pack. And pack. And pack.

One more thing to add to the list before you head to campus? Birth control. Continue reading

It’s Not a Dirty Secret (Get Tested)!

coupleholdinghandsclinicImagine a world where testing for sexual transmitted infections (STIs) was as normal and routine as getting a flu shot or your teeth cleaned. Imagine if there was no shame in asking to be tested for chlamydia or gonorrhea or HIV. Imagine how many people–who may have been infected without knowing it– could live healthier lives because they didn’t fear the social repercussions of having an STI.

Sexually transmitted infections (also known as sexually transmitted diseases/ STDs) are self-explanatory: infections that are primarily transmitted through sexual behavior such as vaginal, anal, or oral sex. About 20 million new infections occur every year in the U.S., and about half of those will be among people under the age of 25. If left untreated, STIs can lead to a number of health problems– including infertility, cancer, chronic pain, high-risk pregnancy, and even death.

But here’s the tricky thing about STIs….

Continue reading

Teen Pregnancy — How Does the U.S. Measure Up?

Last week, as we began our celebration of Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month, I noted that the U.S. has experienced dramatic decreases in teen pregnancy rates over the past decades. While this is an excellent trend, our teens still lag far behind their peers in other countries.

Take a look for yourself: the U.S. has much higher teen birth rates than other western,
industrialized countries and it doesn’t stop there– teen pregnancy and abortion rates are also much higher in the U.S.

On average, U.S. teens initiate sexual activity around the same age and are no more sexuality active than teens in other countries.

So, what are we, in the U.S. doing wrong?

Or to put a more positive spin on the question, what are other countries doing right? Continue reading

Sound…Camera…Action! Maine Teens Making Movies

This week, we welcome a guest blogger — Faith, a high school student from the greater Bangor area.

A group of twenty-five teens sat in a room, buzzing with excitement at the chance to voice their opinion. In public, the topic they were discussing would cause some awkward stares, hushed voices, and very quiet teenagers.

Sexual health is one of those topics that is rarely discussed seriously, but is incredibly important to be informed about. When I was given the chance to educate parents and  teens, I – along with many others – jumped on it.

I’m Faith, a teen heavily involved with a group called Project AWARE. Project AWARE is a non-profit organization based in Southern Maine, whose goal is to empower and educate youth by giving them the opportunity to make movies or videos on very important topics in life.

The Family Planning Association of Maine contracted with Project AWARE to help them create a 10-20 minute movie on teen sexual health, along with four one-to-two-minute videos, called scenarios.

This long journey to create the movie began last December. Continue reading

Don’t Have Sex — Because You Will Get Pregnant & Die

Coach teaches a sex ed class in the movie "Mean Girls"

Last week, we talked about the high teen pregnancy and STD infection rates in the U.S. compared to other developed countries. It turns out that differing societal attitudes towards teen sexuality is the biggest factor accounting for the huge gap. European parents and other adults are much more accepting of teen sexuality and teens consider it the norm to take precautions when engaging in sexual activity.

Quite different from the “sex is bad” approach so common in this country.

Aside from changing our entire country’s cultural norms around sexuality, what can we do to reduce teen pregnancy and STD infection rates? Continue reading

Why Other Countries “Do It” Better


“In any given society, at any given moment in history, people become sexual the same way they become anything else. Without much reflection, they pick up directions from their social environment.”

~ John H. Gagnon, Distinguished Professor, Emeritus, Stony Brook University

Well said!

Professor Gagnon’s statement speaks to one of my biggest questions:

Why does the U.S. have one of the highest teen pregnancy rates of any developed country? Continue reading

GYT — It’s National STD Awareness Month

April is National STD Awareness Month, an annual observance to call attention to the impact of sexually transmitted diseases and to promote STD testing across the United States.

You may not think you’re affected by STDs but we all are in some way or other.

Every year, STDs cost the U.S. health care system $17 billion — and they cost affected individuals even more in immediate and long-term health consequences. Continue reading