These 5 awesome apps are way better than your high school sex ed class.

Because caring for your body should be simple and shame-free.

You called your insurance, you got the list of doctors who are on your plan, you called 12 of them to get an appointment within the next three months, and now you're ready. You've finally scheduled an appointment! Congratulations! 

That was a lot of work, wasn't it?

And that's just for finding a primary care provider. The search for specialists — like gynecologists and mental health providers — can be even more frustrating, especially for people without health insurance.


And then there's the issue of comfort. Let's face it: most people are uncomfortable talking about their genitals with anyone, even a doctor. Discomfort leads to avoidance, which means that people are putting off important preventative care visits all because we're embarrassed about our bodies. And that's a really big deal, because more than 50% of people will get an STI at some point in their lives.

Taking care of your sexual health can seem like an unpleasant inconvenience, but it shouldn't be that way.

These two agree with me. Gif via Giphy.

Luckily, the creators of these 5 apps agree. And they're here to help.

These apps can help you book appointments, ask questions safely and anonymously, and just have fun while learning about your body. And an extra plus? You don't have to pay to download them.  

1. Maven gets you face to face with a real doctor, from the comfort of your own home.

One day a few months ago, one of my coworkers walked into the office bubbling with excitement. She had just had an appointment to get birth control —  over a video call on her cell phone. For someone who doesn't own a car or have health insurance, that appointment was a game-changer.

Maven is every over-worked, over-scheduled person's dream. The app, launched in April 2015, allows users to talk with doctors face-to-face through video call technology — so you can make your appointment and never have to leave your bed. We're talking birth control consultations, birth education, and even therapy appointments. Maven's rates are lower than most copays: their sliding scale starts at just $15, and there are no hidden costs, so you won't be surprised by a bill in the mail afterwards. 

Maven lets you select what area you're seeking services in. It also hosts a forum where users can ask questions and get answers.

If the idea of a "teledoctor" sounds scary to you, Maven's got your back. The app doesn't just list providers, they require a rigorous application process before providers can be affiliated with the app. According to the Founder & CEO, Kate Ryder, Maven only has a 35% provider acceptance rate.

Though Maven's tagline is "health and wellness by women, for women," don't let that fool you — Maven is open to people of all genders to use. 

2. Bedsider helps you find your best birth control option.

When I'm teaching workshops at colleges, one of the most common questions students ask is "can I get an IUD? I heard that I can't." After assuring them that yes, people who haven't had kids can get IUDs, and yes, you can get an IUD if you're under 30, I tell them that they should check out Bedsider.org for more information on different forms of birth control.

Bedsider is hands-down one of the most comprehensive birth control information websites out there. Their site allows you to look at an interactive method-by-method breakdown of different birth control options, ranging from withdrawal (the pull-out method) and fertility awareness to IUDs and sterilization. 

Image powered by Bedsider.

Their resources are totally free, and they even offer a second site in Spanish

3. Lemonaid has nothing to do with lemons, and everything to do with urgent care.

Lemonaid seeks to make treating common complaints easier for those with busy schedules and without insurance. Users fill out a questionnaire about their current health concerns, upload a picture of their face (per state regulations), and a medical provider writes a prescription. 

It's that simple.

Users can get prescriptions for birth control pills, antibiotics, acid reflux, and more. There is no sliding scale: you just pay $15 flat. Unfortunately, Lemonaid is only available in a few states — California, Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania. 

4. My Sex Doctor isn't actually a doctor at all.

My Sex Doctor is like an encyclopedia entirely focused on sex. It offers hundreds of definitions, descriptions of STI symptoms, and answers to commonly asked questions all in one app. For sex geeks and curious learners alike, this app creates an awesome learning space. 

"A" is for...

While this app doesn't give you access to an actual doctor, it can give you is the comfort and safety of being able to get your questions answered anonymously. Which brings me to...

5. SexPositive is the best cell phone game you'll download today. Or ever.

Ask a sex educator what their favorite group activity is, and they'll probably tell you that they love teaching games. Because really, what's not to love about learning and having fun? When I found out about this app, I told all of my friends about it and we played it together, giggling every time the spinner landed on "finger on nose."

SexPositive is the sexual health Wheel of Fortune that you didn't know you needed in your life. Developed by the University of Oregon Health Center, the app allows users to identify the risks associated with different behaviors. 

SexPositive allows users to match up what different body parts and objects to identify risk factors. Rather than just sharing risk info, SexPositive also provides tools for safety and communication.

While they're a ton of fun, apps like SexPositive are also incredibly important for folks who might be embarrassed about not knowing about, say, the potential risk of pregnancy from a hand job. 

Because trust me, people have a lot of questions that they're embarrassed to directly ask someone. Just check out this basket of anonymous question cards at The Center for Sexual Pleasure & Health (The CSPH) for proof:  

Saturdays @thecsph -- going through all of our #SSCT question cards for our new video series.

A photo posted by Cassandra Corrado (@feministsexed) on

Shame shouldn't prevent you from seeking quality health care. You deserve to have your questions answered and your health needs fulfilled.

Whether you're looking for information, discrete treatment, or even just convenience, these apps are helping make it happen.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
True

When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

Ronny Tertnes' "liquid sculptures" are otherworldly.

Human beings have sculpted artwork out of all kinds of materials throughout history, from clay to concrete to bronze. Some sculpt with water in the form of ice, but what if you could create sculptures with small drops of liquid?

Norwegian artist Ronny Tertnes does just that. His "liquid sculptures" look like something from another planet or another dimension, while at the same time are entirely recognizable as water droplets.

I mean, check this out:


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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
True

The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

The scarf, a simple accessory that some find an essential fashion piece. Both fashionable and function with the warmth they provide, scarves can be a valuable gift for any occasion or person. Here, we've selected our best selling scarves from our store. At Upworthy Market, when you purchase a product, you directly support the artisans who craft their own products, so with every purchase, you're doing good. These scarves are not only unique, but they are hand-made by local artisans and all under $30.

1. Fair Trade Woven Dark Gray Alpaca Blend Scarf

Celinda Jaco selects a cozy blend of Andean alpaca for this handsome men's scarf. Classic in style, it features fine stripes of white and black woven through the dark grey textile. Hand-tied fringe completes a distinguished design.

cdn11.bigcommerce.com

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Kayla Sullivan nails the reality of toddler tantrums in her mock news report.

Anyone who's ever had a 2-year-old knows that they can be … a lot. Adorable for sure, but … a lot. Toddlers are just starting to figure out that they have their own free will, but they have zero idea how to wield it or use it for good. They want what they want, when they want it—except when they change their mind and absolutely do not want what they just wanted—and they don't really have the emotional maturity or verbal acuity to adequately express any of these things without crying, whining or screaming.

There's a reason they're so darn cute.

For parents, handling a 2-year-old's 2-year-oldness can be a challenge. You can't rationalize with them. You know they're not being little toddler terrors on purpose. You know that they're just learning and that it's a stage and a phase that won't last forever, but when you're in it? Phew.

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