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1 out of 3 doctors aren't recommending the HPV vaccine. We need to talk about why.

Talking about sex with your teen can be awkward, but we should do it anyway.

1 out of 3 doctors aren't recommending the HPV vaccine. We need to talk about why.

A recent survey in Pediatrics found that more than one-third of doctors aren't strongly recommending the HPV vaccine to their preteen patients. That's a lot of doctors, but it's way more patients. 

HPV is the fastest-growing STI in the United States.

The HPV vaccines, known as Gardasil and Cervarix, can protect against some of the most common strains, including some that may lead to cervical cancer. 


The HPV vaccine was introduced in the United States in 2006, and since then, there has been a 56% reduction of the vaccine-covered strains in girls ages 14-19. It's now recommended for all children (not just girls) ages 11 and older.  

When properly administered, the vaccine is nearly 100% effective at preventing cervical, vaginal, and vulvar precancers, and Gardasil prevents about 90% of genital warts.

If it's already made such an impact, why isn't it being recommended?

Basically, doctors aren't recommending the vaccine to patients because they don't want to talk about sex.

This is society when you bring up sex. Except when you're trying to sell something. GIF via "Jane the Virgin."

The Victorians would be so proud. 

Less than 2% of preteens under age 12 are sexually active, but that number increases significantly throughout adolescence. By age 16, 48% of teens are sexually active. 

Kids want to talk to their parents about it. Seriously.

A 2012 survey found that nearly 9 in 10 teens said it would be easier to "postpone sexual activity and avoid pregnancy if they were able to have more open, honest conversations about these topics with their parents." 

Albert, B. (2012). With One Voice 2012: America’s Adults and Teens Sound Off About Teen Pregnancy. Washington, DC: The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

Parents want to have these conversations too.

If both parents and teens want to talk to each other, why don't we?

Because it's awkward. Because we feel unqualified. Because we assume that our kids will get that education at school. Unfortunately, sex education still looks like like this in a lot of schools: 

This is statistically not likely to happen, just saying. GIF from "Mean Girls."

A huge part of parenting is talking to your kids about tough topics, even if it's a bit uncomfortable. Here are some ways to start that conversation.

You got this. GIF via "Parks and Recreation."

*deep breaths*

1. Use television shows, movies, and current events to start a conversation.

We often imagine The Talk as something scary, solemn, and heavily planned out. You intercept your teen as they walk in the door after school, and they know immediately. They start mumbling. You start talking about how you're not a regular mom, you're a cool mom. At some point, you both stop making eye contact. 

It doesn't need to be that way. You can use media to open the door, even if that means you just point out articles in the newspaper or ask how they felt about certain moments in their favorite shows. 

2. Start early.

You know how we start learning languages with the alphabet? Talking about sex is like that. You start easy and work your way up.

When children are young, talk to them about boundaries. Talk about what bodies do, and normalize those things. Did you find your first-grader with a tampon up their nose, pretending to be a walrus? Laugh (and take the tampon out of their nose) and tell them what tampons are for. It's a lot less scary to get your period the first time if you actually know what a period is. 

3. Don't think of it as The Talk.

"The Talk" has become such a loaded phrase that all parents within a mile radius instantly groan when someone says "Yeah, we had The Talk last night."

If we stop thinking about it as just one conversation — as The Talk — we start to normalize conversations about sex and sexuality. This goes right along with starting early. If you talk to your kids regularly about their bodies and relationships, it's a lot less scary for everyone. 

4. Come with your own set of questions for your child's doctor.

Health care is a team effort, especially if your children are very young. Come prepared with a set of questions for your doctor. Are you curious about the HPV vaccine? Talk with them about it. If you start the conversation with them about your child's sexual health, they may be more comfortable discussing whether the vaccine — or other health measures — are right for your child. 

But remember — your child may want to talk to their doctor alone. It doesn't mean they don't trust you, it just means that they may feel a bit awkward having that conversation with a group of people. Trust that your doctor will let you know if your child is being hurt by themselves or by another person. 

5. When you don't know, don't fake it.

Repeat after me: It's OK to not know all the answers. If you don't know the answer to a question or if you aren't certain, look it up together! There is no shame in not knowing, and research is often being updated, so what you learned as a teen might not be up-to-date. 

Some websites that you can turn to for accurate, up-to-date information are ScarleteenSex, Etc., Our Bodies Ourselves, and The Guttmacher Institute.

I'm not saying it's always going to be easy.

But if you could help your child stay healthy and have healthy relationships, wouldn't you want to? We've come a long way in preventing HPV, treating STIs, and preventing and treating HIV. So let's not let our fear of sex hold us back. 

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Let's show those doctors that we're ready to talk about it. 

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.