It's Sexual Health Week and two of the UK's leading sexual health charities - Brook and the Family Planning Association - have launched a new campaign in response to what they call the "worrying erosion of contraceptive rights and choice" the country is seeing.
XES - We Can't Go Backwards has been set up because evidence shows that millions of women are living in areas of the country where access to contraception services - such as emergency contraception, STI testing and treatment, help with decision-making, and pregnancy testing - is limited.
Brook and FPA are also receiving an increasing number of enquiries from women who are unable to access the services they need. And one recent report has shown a correlation between lack of provision and higher than average abortion rates.
Effective contraception is what women want - after all, 90% of us will use it at some point. It leads to fewer unplanned pregnancies and is more cost effective - for every £1 spent on contraception, the NHS saves £12. Yet cuts in services, budgets, changes to the NHS, and a growing number of anti-choice voices is creating what is being called a "toxic mix" of issues for women.
"There's a genuine risk that we are slipping back to the dark ages. We cannot stand by and wait for the crisis to happen - we've got to act now," says FPA chief executive Julie Bentley.
The two organisations are hoping to work with the public, gathering information to understand the scale of the problem, informing people of their rights, and helping to protect services by encouraging them to demand better provision.
This is where we all come in. XES wants to know about your experiences of sexual health services in the UK - whether they're good, bad, or being restricted. So far people have highlighted problems such as clinics only being open for limited hours, services only being available to certain age groups, long waiting times for treatment, and unavailability of some types of contraception.
"We want to use this information to try and influence local funders and decision makers to improve the services and make sure people have access to the full range of services and information they deserve."
Good sexual health is a vital concern for the majority of people - over the last 50 years, improvements in services have meant free contraception for everyone (whether they are married or not), support for teenage parents, testing and treatment for STIs, and confidential advice to help us make safe choices. Investment in services has meant that the under-18 pregnancy rate has fallen by 25% in the last decade. Nobody wants cuts, closures, policy changes and religious extremists to get in the way - we only have to look to the USA to see the devastating effect this erosion of choice and services can have on women.
You can share your experiences and support XES via the campaign's website, on Facebook, or Twitter - using this handy Bill of Rights to assess how good the care you've received has been. You can also write to your MP, ask Brook or FPA for support, and check out their Sexual Health Map of the UK. Let's help to protect such important healthcare and improve access for all women.