Planned Parenthood Urges Partners to Protect Their Sexual Health: Local Affiliate Sponsoring Valentine-Themed Awareness Campaign in February
GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan — With Valentine's Day coming up on February 14, this is the season for couples, and for love! Planned Parenthood of West and Northern Michigan (PPWNM) urges sexually active individuals to talk to their partners about the importance of using condoms to protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unintended pregnancy. Nearly 19 million STIs and more than 3 million unintended pregnancies occur each year, and condoms are the only form of contraception that also helps reduce the risk of STIs.
"Education and communication equip people to make responsible decisions about their health," said Kym Duursma, an education specialist with PPWNM, "Data shows many people who have a sexually transmitted infection don't even realize it, so it's important to let your partner know that you want to use condoms every time you have sex to keep both of you healthy."
Contradicting long-established beliefs, a study published in February issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that men and women rated recent sexual experiences as highly pleasurable whether or not condoms were used.
"You could give your Valentine chocolate or flowers, but the foundation of a loving and healthy relationship is communication," says Duursma. "Negotiating condom use with your partner doesn't have to be a scary conversation when you focus on the message, 'Wear. No matter what. Because I care. No matter what.'"
In February, PPWNM health centers are distributing free Valentine "condom pops" consisting of two condoms, a lollipop, information about safe sex, and links to more information. PPWNM advocates will also be distributing condom pops at select community venues. In all, more than 6,000 condoms will be distributed as part of the campaign.
PPWNM health centers are located in the following Michigan cities: Big Rapids, Ionia, Grand Rapids, Marquette, Muskegon, Petoskey, Traverse City, and Wyoming. PPWNM always supplies three (3) free condoms per day at any of its health centers, to anyone who walks in and asks.
To view several videos related to condom use, including How to Put on a Condom and The Female Condom, in both English and Spanish, click on the following link for PPWNM's YouTube channel: http://bit.ly/XSx9uo
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2010 estimates that nearly 19 million STDs occur each year, nearly half of which are among 15- to 24-year-olds. Biological factors place women at greater risk of infection than men, and contribute to more severe health consequences for women, so Planned Parenthood reinforces the condom use message with its female patients in order to help them feel more comfortable buying, carrying, and using condoms.
Every year Planned Parenthood health centers provide nearly three million women, men, and teens nationwide with health services, and more than one million with education to prevent STDs and unintended pregnancy. Last year PPWNM provided health services to nearly 14,000 Michigan residents.
Planned Parenthood of West and Northern Michigan (PPWNM) provides sexual health care and sexuality education services, and advocates for access to these services for everyone. PPWNM, an affiliate of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, operates health centers in eight Michigan cities -- Big Rapids, Grand Rapids, Ionia, Marquette, Muskegon, Petoskey, Traverse City, and Wyoming -- providing medical and education services to thousands of women, men, and teenagers each year. Log on, learn more: ppwnm.org.