Sustainability and sexual health don’t usually go hand-in-hand — but maybe they should. After all, they’re both incredibly important topics, and there’s no getting around the fact that people are going to have sex. If that’s the case, shouldn’t we make an effort to keep it clean — both for ourselves and for the planet?

There are a lot of facets to sexual health, and it’s not just sex — although that is a big part of it! It’s also the entire reproductive cycle, including puberty, menstruation, education, sex and, of course, pregnancy and childbirth. Sustainable initiatives may not be available for all of these options yet, but it’s important to consider the ones that are, as well as work on creating solutions for areas that need improvement.

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Create the Education

It’s impossible to discuss sexual health without talking about the education. There are some pretty wild rumors people believe about sex, like the idea that douching with soda after intercourse will prevent pregnancy. It won’t, but plenty of people believe it will, and that creates a wide variety of its own problems.

The most obvious problem with inadequate sexual health education is an unplanned pregnancy. However, the whole system really needs an update in the U.S., and it just needs to be started in many other parts of the world. Programs like the United Nations Population Fund have already laid the groundwork for creating a well-rounded education for those most in need. Learning about sex, the reality of it and the science behind it, helps lay the foundation for creating a more sustainable future.

Sustainability for Sexy Time

Sexy time is why we’re all here. Literally, it’s why everyone on the planet is here. It’s also why our population keeps increasing. It’s safe, therefore, to assume that not everyone having sex is using birth control, lubrication or handcuffs.

However, there are many who are using birth control, and the traditional kinds are still the most popular. While any kind of birth control is ultimately better than an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy, it does result in yet more waste getting dumped into our environment. So, if you could buy more sustainable variations of condoms or lubrication, why wouldn’t you?

Most chain grocery stores don’t carry these sustainable options yet, but they’ll start to pick up in the near future. Companies like Sustain, which is dedicated to creating all natural options of condoms, lubricants and wipes, are working on becoming more available. Even so, since shopping online is so easy, there’s no harm in having a small stash on hand. They even offer a bimonthly subscription, so you never have to worry about it!

Take the Leap With Your Period

One last part of sexual health is, of course, menstruation. You’ve probably heard about the Diva Cup, which is a reusable cup that works kind of like a tampon. The main difference is that you don’t throw it out, and you can use it for an entire year if you keep it clean. The Diva Cup isn’t the only option out there, though. If you want to stick to something a little more traditional, brands like Lola are fantastic. Not only are their products made of 100% cotton, so breathable and completely chemical-free for your lady bits, they also ship them to you monthly in a discreet yet beautiful box.

Everyone is made a bit differently, and there are plenty of options for you to find a good fit. When you figure that the average women uses about 20 tampons for each cycle, 12 times a year, for multiple decades, you get a lot of waste. A menstrual cup takes it down from 240 products per year, to one.

If you aren’t a big fan of tampons or the idea of cups, you still have an option. Cloth pads are also popular for reusable products. Of course, you need more than one, and you do have to care for them well. However, people who use them swear by them. There are also claims that they help to shorten your period since there are less chemicals and bleaching agents used to make them. They’re also more comfortable and less visible through clothing.

Don’t Forget the Babes

Women who are currently able to become pregnant can do so pretty much whenever they want to. No one has to ask for a doctor’s advice or get approval for it, and this can lead to some dangerous situations. Children are sometimes born with severe birth defects as a result of environmental factors — just look at how the Zika virus has started to invade the US.

Coal ash and air pollution as well as other pollutants are all contributing factors to potential birth defects. Those children are not only poorly affected by our generation’s actions, but they then cost the taxpayer’s money, which makes us less likely to support expensive initiatives to clean up our environment — and that just leads to a recurring cycle.

The point is, cleaning up our environment isn’t just a factor of what’s good for us. It is entirely what’s good for us, for our children, for the economy and for the world. Our sexual health — everything from the education on it, to daily the maintenance of it, to the birth of our children — is a vital factor in creating a more sustainable world.

You’re already at least partially green. Why not expand the idea to include your sexual health?

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Holly Whitman

Holly Whitman is the author behind Only Slightly Biased, a freelance journalist and striving to be one of the best women political writers on the web. Her work has been featured on Yahoo Finance, Fortune, Politicus, Bust and Feministing. You can find her on Twitter at @hollykwhitman.

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