Everybody’s body belongs to them, and they get to make decisions about that body. This includes decisions about themselves, their relationships, their health, and their bodies. For example, individuals have the right to decide:
- If, when, and what kind of sexual activity to participate in
- Who their sexual partner(s) will be (as long as all persons provide consent)
- Whether to have children, when to have children, and how many children to have
- Whether to use birth control, and what kind
- Whether to enter into, stay in, or exit a relationship
- How they will protect themselves and their partner(s) from sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- If they are pregnant, which pregnancy option (abortion, adoption, parenting) is best for them
Many factors influence our decision making, including values and beliefs, thoughts and feelings, and past experiences. There may be strong religious, cultural, or family values that help guide decision making. Alternatively, values and beliefs may challenge some of the decisions in our lives. Sometimes, it can be difficult to make choices, especially about things like relationships, sex and intimacy, birth control, parenting, and more. Regardless of the decision, it is important to take time to gather information and evaluate all options before making an informed decision. Some steps might include:
- Defining the problem
- Thinking about all of the choices available
- Thinking about the consequences of each choice
- Considering values and beliefs
- Making a decision, and then trying it out
- Evaluating the decision – Did it work well? Why or why not?
SERC also has a Sexual Decision-Making Checklist here.
SERC MB supports and empowers individuals to make their own decisions, free from fear, coercion, pressure, and judgment. This means that others do not have the power to force decisions on others. Importantly, we acknowledge that people have the capacity to make their own decisions. These include decisions about boundaries, relationships, sexual activity, birth control, and many more. We believe that it is important that people have access to accurate, factual information in order to make informed decisions. Because of this, we offer information on sexual decision making models, birth control and pregnancy options, consent-based relationship models, STIs, and much more.