15 Jul Time to Talk the Talk
By Michelle Vu.
Growing up, everything I learned about sex, sexuality, and my body was in small bits of information that adults wanted me to know. “Use protection.” “Don’t have sex.” No one answered the very real and important questions I had, and I was constantly told that I would understand when I was old enough. But, what is old enough? If we aren’t allowed to have open and honest conversations about sex and sexuality with young people, then how are they supposed to make smart, healthy decisions about their bodies?
Fast-forward 10+ years, and I’m sitting in the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health’s (ICAH) safe space, openly discussing issues surrounding sex, sexuality, and reproductive justice. Joining ICAH’s Youth Leadership Council as a naïve 18 year old, I was amazed to find an environment where youth and adults formed equal partnerships. Both groups freely and regularly started conversations about sex and sexuality. ICAH’s biggest priorities include increasing sexual healthcare information to youth, as well as reducing stigma and shame around youth sexuality and sexual decision-making. We proudly use the hashtags #HealthAccess and #NoShame, because we want youth to know that they deserve medically accurate information about their bodies in order to take charge of their health and well-being.
ICAH inspired me to pursue a career in medicine, and I am entering my first year of medical school in the fall with the aspiration of becoming a sex-friendly gynecologist. While reproductive health is still viewed as too awkward and taboo to talk about, it should always be a natural topic to discuss. I want to become the healthcare professional who breaks down these barriers and starts these sexual health conversations. This will allow me to foster strong physician-patient relationships based on honest communication and trust as I help patients make important reproductive health decisions.