Thank you so much for joining this very important conversation.
Human beings are whole people, many of whom have sex, experience pleasure or pain, try to get pregnant, get pregnant, have miscarriages, have abortions, experience sexual trauma, etc… The ways that we engage or choose not to engage with our sexual selves can impact and/ or be impacted by a wide array of other health issues. This is why it is so critical that, as health professionals, we educate ourselves to understand how sexual and reproductive health intersects with our work. It does not matter if your specialty is in obstetrics or geriatrics, urology or neurology; sexual and reproductive health is an integral component of every person’s overall health and well-being and, therefore, impacts the lives of all of your patients. This means that every nurse should have access to accurate and unbiased information about the full spectrum of sexual and reproductive healthcare. These topics must no longer be treated as taboo or controversial; being well-informed about sexual and reproductive health is simply good practice. This is why we created a safe space where you can ask questions, share resources, and learn from other providers.
Find out how to become a member of our amazing community.
Stories from the Field
In order to get the conversation started we asked some of our staff and members, "How does sexual and reproductive health show up in your life and your work"? We were especially interested in hearing about that "aha" moment when the connection really clicked for them. Below you will find some of their stories.
"SRH shows up in my life as a queer person working in healthcare. I am simultaneously facing and working to dismantle barriers to care for queer people. In a political and cultural climate that is reversing rights in all areas of sexual and reproductive health, it is more important than ever for me to be visibly queer doing this work. I have always been out as queer with coworkers, am working on being out about my gender journey, and disclose with discretion my work in abortion care. Working in an at-will employment state that is also very hostile to abortion and queer folks, I hold these identities close at times to protect my job and my family. Workers’ rights are also closely linked to reproductive justice. I work in both emergency and abortion care and am often seeing people at one of few access points they have into the healthcare system. Both ERs, in general, and my abortion clinic, specifically, are often providers of last resort after people have been turned away from or lack the resources to access other providers. Oklahoma criminalizes self-managed abortion while imposing harsh restrictions on access to medical abortion care. This is a struggle in both my abortion clinic and hospital practice. We cannot serve every patient who needs abortion care and there is always a chance I will see folks who fell through the cracks in our crumbling healthcare system in the ER. Self-managed abortion is not inherently unsafe, but the criminalization of people experiencing pregnancy loss in Oklahoma makes patients reluctant to seek care. In the same way all nursing is psych nursing, all nursing is sexual and reproductive health nursing. "
"My journey to becoming an abortion provider started with my own abortion story. I was raised in a Catholic household, went to Catholic school, and at an early age was taught that abortion was a selfish and evil act. In high school, I transitioned from private to public school. At 17, I started working as a medical assistant for a family and internal medicine practice. At 19, I became pregnant with my first child and had a very difficult labor that ended in an emergency C-section. My son was born, and my life changed overnight. A year later, I became pregnant again. I immediately knew I didn’t want to be pregnant; I didn’t want to risk another C-section; I didn’t want to have another baby at that time. I realized everything I was taught about abortion was wrong. I knew having an abortion was the best decision for myself and my family. I made an appointment with an abortion provider near my home and had my first abortion on my 21st birthday. At my appointment, I remember feeling so thankful to have the service available to me, and when it was finished, I felt so relieved. After my birth and abortion experience, I knew I wanted to work in sexual and reproductive health."
"When I decided to go into nursing, I thought I wanted to work in labor and delivery. I knew I loved women’s health and thought L&D was it for me. However, the last couple years have opened my eyes to my true calling: sex education. In wake of the #MeToo movement in 2017, combatting rape culture became a priority for me. I feel that advocating for and providing comprehensive sex education is the best way to use my position as a future nurse. With reproductive rights also at stake, my focus in politics has been on much more than just the presidency. I graduate this spring and cannot wait to get to work; continuing to learn and helping others to do the same in hopes of creating a better world with access to comprehensive sex education, reproductive health and justice for all."
"My first year of nursing I worked on an Inpatient Orthopedics floor at a large medical center. We often took care of trauma, surgery, and medical-surgical patients when those units didn't have space. I remember very clearly an older man I took care of and discharged who was recently out of surgery to remove a foreign object from his colon that had gotten stuck during sex. Throughout most of my shift he laid in bed and wouldn't say much. It felt as if he was too embarrassed or ashamed to speak openly about what happened, ask questions, or even tell me if he was having any pain. On top of that, at discharge I merely read verbatim the words on the discharge papers which did not address any physical restrictions or guidance for sexual activity. I will always remember feeling inadequate as a nurse because of my inability to address those things. I truly wish I had had a community like NSRH at the beginning of my nursing career. Somewhere safe for me to learn how to be compassionate and non-judgmental in my practice and how to speak to patients about sex and pleasure. I am so glad to have found this community now."
Do you have a story you would like to share?
We invite you to join this rich conversation about sex, justice, pleasure, and health with other nurses and nursing students. Learning about the full spectrum of sexual and reproductive health is relevant and useful for everyone in the nursing profession. So, how does sexual and reproductive health show up in your life and your work? We are especially interested in hearing about that "aha" moment when the connection really clicked for you.
Nurses, do you have questions about SRH and your practice that you have been too ashamed or afraid to ask?
All nurses deserve access to accurate information and training in sexual and reproductive healthcare, including abortion care, so when the times comes we can confidently provide the care and support our patients need.