There Are Literal Benefits To Having A Vagina — Are You Taking Advantage Of Them?

Photographed by Ruby Woodhouse.

It's no secret that people who have vaginas need specific healthcare, but it can be difficult to understand our rights. So a new website, VaginaBenefits.com, aims to help people who have vaginas better navigate their health rights.

With reproductive rights being called into question under the Trump administration, the rules about birth control and women's health seem to be changing every day. That's why Vagina Benefits hopes to help people learn more about their access to birth control, as well as the rights they're entitled to, on a state-by-state basis.

Launched last week when open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act began, the site's name is a callback to the ACA's preventative care benefits for women.

The site's "vagina benefits by state index" allows you to click on your state (or any state you're curious about) and see how it ranks in terms of birth control access and health benefits. California, for example, has a rating of 7.25 out 10 — while the state mandates coverage of all 18 FDA-approved birth control methods, but "simply reiterates federal legislation and is NOT a true state-level 'safety net,'" according to the site.

Carolyn Witte, who launched the site, says that her experience co-founding the women's health startup Tia inspired her to create Vagina Benefits.

"The idea of the Vagina Benefits first came from seeing the anxiety and sheer confusion from Tia users about their basic healthcare, and specifically, the cost of care," she tells Refinery29. "We've seen firsthand that women all-too-often don't go to the doctor because they don't know what it will cost and fear not being able to afford it — even for IUDs and preventive health services like pap smears that are covered 100% by insurance plans."

The site isn't just about women — Witte says that they prefer to use the term "people with vaginas" to be inclusive towards anyone who might have female anatomy, no matter what gender they identify with.

"'Different' doesn't mean inferior or less equal, but simply different and deserving of distinct and better care," Witte says.

At the end of the day, she hopes that people can use the site to better understand what their healthcare rights are, and to be able to demand what they deserve.

"More broadly speaking, we hope to spark a conversation about how insurance and healthcare must evolve to make the essential healthcare [that] people with vaginas need more accessible," she says.

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