“I don’t want my body to behave like it’s in the menopause when I’m in my thirties.”

The week before Christmas, Alexa*, had just broken up with her partner. She was upset about her relationship ending when she found a lump in her breast.

“I couldn’t quite take it in. I was only 32 then, no one in my family had had any cancer. The lump appeared quickly and then it was just a whirlwind.”

Alexa went to the GP the same day. She was referred into hospital for a mammogram, then a biopsy. By February, she was in surgery…

Sex and Covid: three stories of how Covid-19 can affect your sex life, for better or worse

We know Covid-19 has impacted sex and relationships over the last year. Some couples have struggled to cope with all the extra time in each other’s company. Others have enjoyed more time at home with no distractions. People have found new ways to date or share intimacy online. Many people found a new relationship with their own body.

But what about people who’ve had Covid, or are experiencing long Covid? I spoke to three young people who told me about their very different…

What it’s like to be young and aromantic

‘Aromantic’ is a term that is still new for many of us. But for those people who identify as aromantic, or on the aromantic spectrum, this word can be incredibly powerful.

I spoke to two young people who identify as aromantic about their experiences of discovering their sexual and romantic orientation. Navigating your feelings about the people around you can be especially difficult as a teenager. Wynn is 17 and studying for college. Grofu is 16 and at secondary school. …

I lost my dad last year. It was a great shock. Though he was 78, he was fit and healthy, still enthusiastically working and excited by life. His loss was terrifying and deeply, gut-punchingly painful. Yet, with all that was to follow, I can count myself lucky that it happened in January 2020, just beforethe Covid-19 pandemic hit the UK. We were able to have a service with over 100 people. My mother’s house was full for weeks afterwards with endless visitors, dropping by to share their tales of my dad, and their obvious fondness for him. It was exhausting…

I’m getting to an age when a few of my friends are experiencing symptoms of menopause. For most of them, the onset of hot flushes, sudden memory loss, headaches and night sweats came as a great shock. The impacts on their work were the hardest, as they felt unable to talk to their colleagues about what was happening to them.

“The symptoms were so insidious,” said Sarah, 52, who works for NHS England. “I was forgetting things, so I was very stressed and anxious. I put it down to other challenges in my workplace, and I didn’t link it to…

The short answer is yes, if you have a cervix.

Cervical screening (sometimes called ‘the smear test’) is a routine check for all women within the screening age group, free on the NHS. In the UK, anyone between the ages of 25 and 64 who has a cervix should go for regular cervical screening. Screening significantly reduces your risk of cervical cancer. If you’re eligible, you’ll be invited for screening every 3 to 5 years, depending on your age.).

Trans men and non-binary people who have a cervix should also attend screening. If you’ve had a hysterectomy, you may still…

A few months ago, I went for my first Mirena coil (or IUS — intrauterine system) fitting at my local GP. I’ve had three children, and while I’ve previously used the progesterone-only pill and the Natural Cycles method, I decided that I’d give the coil a go now that we’ve decided we’re definitely not planning any more kids.

So, what happens when you get a coil fitted?

Telephone consultation

First of all, I called my GP practice to ask for a fitting appointment. I live in a rural area, so there are not many sexual health clinics nearby, and I have a…

This is a piece I wrote for our wedding ceremony. We got married after a very long engagement and three kids. Lots of people asked why we bothered with a wedding after making such a commitment. This was my attempt at describing what marriage means to me. Feel free to use it, with attribution.

It takes some time to know oneself. But I know you. After getting this far together, I know you. And you know me. We’ve been through loss, and sadness, and frustration, through uncertainty, and indecision, through wonder, and such great, great joy in what we have…

I wrote this poem for our wedding. My husband and I were engaged years ago, but decided to have children before a wedding. I’m glad we did — it meant that our children were part of our day, as were those of our friends. I wrote this for the ceremony, to be read by my brother in law.

Mum and dad are getting married today

It’s called a Wedding, I think.

I have to dress up in clean clothes and shoes and make sure I don’t pick my nose.

Mum says there will be cake and lots of kids to…

Warning: this contains graphic and intimate descriptions of miscarriage.

I’ve just had a miscarriage. I found out I’d lost my baby when it should have been 9 weeks old. It had stopped growing at 7. I opted for a natural miscarriage, having read all the guidance online and spoken to my sister and friends who’d been through it. I could deal with it, I thought. Women do it every day.

I was wrong.

I’m sharing my experience here in the hope that it can prepare others for what they are about to go through, and help partners to understand what…

Laura O Smith

Freelance writer and content designer

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