It's your health, it's your education and it's the basis of the rest of your life.But has it ever struck you that all the decisions are made by people who stopped being young years ago? So every issue Doctor Wellgood will try to bring you up to date with what 'the grown-ups' are deciding without consulting you.
We think it's essential you know your rights when it comes to health and education so this week we're looking at hot news about the effects that cuts to the NHS will have on sexual health services.
Government cuts to the NHS - we know they're happening but what does it really mean? Sexual health charities (Brook and FPA) have released a report called Unprotected Nation. It's all about the effects that funding cuts will have on sexual health services. In particular they will affect girls and women.
The report focuses on the financial effects of the cuts. They estimate that it will cost a crazy £136.7 billion by 2020! More practically the cuts would see restriction on access to sexual health services. This will lead to more unplanned pregnancies and more STIs. Anyone can see that the simple answer to reducing these numbers is to improve access.
Times are tough but making cuts now will cost loads more in the future. Not to mention the impact it's going to have on the sexual health of a generation. Here at Doctor Wellgood we're concerned about the way it's going to affect you.
The UK has the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in Western Europe. The cuts could see over 56,000 more unplanned pregnancies over the next seven years. Unplanned doesn't mean unwanted yet around half of these pregnancies will end in abortion or miscarriage.
The Government no longer has a teenage pregnancy strategy. We think this is really worrying. Improved education and access to services is the only way to ensure fewer unplanned pregnancies.
Free contraception was introduced in 1974. Chances are you can't imagine a world where we're not entitled to contraception. It's complete madness to think we can go back to a time when contraception wasn't readily available. Since then, there has been a shift in attitudes towards sex. The introduction of contraception has been vital in normalising sex and more importantly making it safe.
You would be correct in imagining that we have a right to choice. It's outlined in the bill of rights for sexual health. We can choose what treatment or service we receive. A restriction on services will restrict this freedom of choice.
We spoke to the good people at the FPA (Family Planning Association). They're concerned that the Government's plans will lead to a postcode lottery. The sexual health service we receive will depend solely on where we live. This means that contraceptive provision could be different in different areas.
If it's going to cost the Government a load of money in the future, why make the cuts? They're only seeing the money that they can save now. By making the cuts there may be short term gains, but they don't seem to be considering the long term costs.
Unfortunately, this short term attitude isn't reserved for the Government; many of us are guilty of not considering long term consequences. Simply this could be drinking too much one night, having unprotected sex and not thinking about the impact the next day at school or work.
More practically cutting funding could be serious in the way that we treat contraception and sex. As things are now it is easy enough to use contraception and not have to worry about becoming pregnant. Or if you forget to use contraception it's easy to get the morning after pill. Restricted access to sexual health services would mean girls having to change our attitudes to sex and make decisions more carefully. The morning after pill has become something many girls use as a substitute for contraception. Viewing it as a safety net leads to a more relaxed approach to sex and can leave you vulnerable to catching an STI.
Sexual health services are going to be handed over to your local health authorities. To know what your local council is doing write a letter to your MP. Are you as concerned as we are about funding cuts to your sexual health services? Let your MP know your opinions about your right to choice. You need to know what's happening in your area so you don't fall off the radar.
If you want some help there is a draft letter and a tool to find your MP on the We Can't Go Backwards website.
Stand up for what you believe in. It's your health.