LIVINGSTON COUNTY – Bedsider.org, run by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, engages anyone looking to explore methods of birth control, sexual health, as well as means of support for the self and others through a virtual hashing-out of topics not often addressed by everyday notions of sex.
The campaign, a private non-profit organization, launched the 24-hour birth control support network in 2011, and has since managed the site without funding from any pharmaceutical companies or the government. The Livingston County Health Department says that Bedsider.org is a good compliment to Livingston County’s three community sites specializing in reproductive health, one of which regularly visits the SUNY Geneseo campus.
“Students can go on the website and research online to form an idea of birth control methods,” said Lisa Beardsley, Senior Public Health Educator for the Department of Health. “They can then come prepared with some questions.”
Susan Zimmer, office manager at the Geneseo reproductive health center, says that this new tool is now starting to come up at meetings within the health center.
“This is kind of funny because we just spoke about [Bedsider.org] earlier this week in a staff meeting,” said Zimmer, who only recently learned of the website. “I just logged on for the first time yesterday.”
SUNY Geneseo’s reproductive health center recommends that students visit Bedsider.org before coming in for a reproductive health visit to brainstorm questions prior to the appointment.
Bedsider.org can prepare local students for health center visits, as well as amp up the national conversation regarding contraception. The site offers various testimonial videos that bring faces to the methods, representing men and women of varied backgrounds, though the site describes itself as a “network for women 18-29.”
Evan, a 30-year old female-to-male transgender living in Hollywood, shares his experience using birth control.
“If I’m buying condoms, I buy them at…probably at a drug store with a self-check-out because it’s kind of embarrassing,” said Evan.
With the voices of Evan and many others, the site offers an interface for users to create accounts, convey insecurities, educate themselves, and ultimately share and seek input.
Angela, 22, talks about the tracking method, which she uses to monitor her fertility levels throughout her menstrual cycle.
“I like the fact that it forces you to get in tune with your own body,” said Angela. “It forces you to understand when you’re ovulating, when you’re going through those spikes of hormones, and that I think is really important for women to understand about themselves.”
While opinions vary, offshoots like Bedsider.org underlines the Campaign’s mission to encourage mindful family development and planning.
“When we are successful, child and family wellbeing will improve,” says Bedsider’s mission. “There will be less poverty, more opportunities for young men and women to complete their education or achieve other life goals, fewer abortions, and a stronger nation.”
Bedsider.org provides another space for individuals to act with the Campaign’s stated mission, regardless of method. Online and off, anyone can learn or re-learn ways to address the ever-evolving yet steadfast need and right to sexual heath.