"Welcome to the free birth-control support network. Find a doctor, find a method, find a happier you in bed."
So reads the tagline of Bedsider.org, a new online resource operated by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Though still in its beta version, the Bedsider site is already full of useful tools like SMS birth control reminders and video factoids that manage to inform without being patronizing or boring. Hooray!
We learned about Bedsider at a panel during SXSW last week on rebranding birth control (more on that later), and were excited to hear that the site was inspired by suggestions from real women of many ages and backgrounds—women who weren't exactly psyched about the typical reproductive health campaigns out there. Bedsider takes a different approach by focusing on better sex and more useful information, presented in a fun way. For example, instead of the usual birth control pamphlet with the drawing of a uterus on it (not that there's anything wrong with a drawing of a uterus), they offer an interactive page on their website with pop-ups explaining just about every birth control method you can think of. Here's a screen shot of the page to give you an idea:
As you can see, each method is represented graphically (you just mouse over the image or click for more info), and you can sort by categories like "do me now," "easy to hide," and "party ready," depending on what type of birth control best suits your needs. They actually make it fun to learn about the different methods (I'll be the first to admit that I had no idea what a cervical cap looked like) and there's no judgment: Just the facts, ma'am.
Bedsider.org is also home to a host of helpful videos that debunk rumors (FYI: Douching with Coke will not prevent pregnancy) and provide personal stories to give visitors to the site additional context. I really like how honest the women are in their video testimonials, and how varied their reasons are for using different methods. Here's Cindia, 25, talking about using emergency contraception as a backup for her Nuva Ring:
The myth-debunking videos are also really cute in addition to being informative. We learned during the SXSW panel that a goal of this campaign was to create messages that women would actually *want* to watch and share because they're fun (with a good dose of reproductive health info on the side). Here's a video from the animated "Fact or Fiction?" series answering a woman who says her boyfriend's "monster wang" is too big for a condom:
During the interviews that led up to this campaign, the folks behind Bedsider learned that many women have trouble remembering the stuff that comes with preventing pregnancy: taking the pill every day, going to appointments, inserting a new Nuva Ring, etc. There's a lot to remember! To help women keep track, Bedsider offers a free reminder service. You can sign up to get text messages or emails every day, week, month, year, or whenever you need to help you stay on track with your method of choice. Each reminder comes with a fun fact like, "Women are more likely to orgasm from an array of sex acts. So mix oral, vaginal, and other fun stuff every time you go at it," to entice you to actually read and process the "take your pill already!" message.
While Bedsider is still in beta and there are some gaps in their approach to birth control info (lots of women don't have regular Internet access, for starters), it's a great free service for women who can get online and are looking for good information written in plain language from nonjudgmental people. It's great to see the folks at Bedsider talking to women, listening to what they have to say, and incorporating that feedback into the offerings on the site. Plus, it's actually fun! Now who ever said sex education can't be sexy?