Have a reproductive health question? Ask Mara
At times, I find myself wishing that the big “the birds and the bees” talk that parents give their kids were replaced by a big introduction to the idea of protection instead. Hear me out: we learn about the reproductive system in school––from all the scientific parts to the long process of pregnancy. But contraception? Not nearly as talked about as it should be, which is a little ridiculous, really. Learning about body parts and memorizing the travel itinerary of a sperm cell won’t save you from unwanted pregnancy––but birth control can. So why can’t we freely talk about it?
For fear of judgment and a full-on sermon from conservative family, pharmaceutical company and global women’s health leader Bayer has come up with a way to address our unanswered questions about contraceptives. Enter: Ask Mara, a Facebook Messenger-based chatbot. Designed to be our go-to-gal for reproductive health concerns, Mara slices right through the stigma surrounding sex and gives us professional, bullshit-free information with just a few taps. The chatbot is bound by the Data Privacy Act of 2012 and the law’s implementing rules and regulations, so anyone with condom questions or protection panic can get their answers without anyone else having to know.
Mara’s features include an explanation of how women get pregnant, a rundown of the locally available contraceptive methods in the country, a pill reminder and frequently asked questions on missed birth control pill schedules. While Mara can fill you in on the pros, cons and side-effects of every contraceptive method, she isn’t designed to prescribe or take the place of a doctor. Think of her as a replacement for all those pesky, unreliable Google searches––a pre-doctor’s appointment, if you will!
Following the success of Bayer’s first reproductive health chatbot, Ask Maya, in Malaysia, Ask Mara was launched in the Philippines to become an ally for RH awareness. The name Mara represents a modern-day Maria Clara because let’s face it, even the most prim and proper among us are likely to have sex eventually. And hey, that’s totally okay––as long as you know what it is you’re getting into.
Got a contraception-related question? Start chatting with Mara on Facebook!
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Art Alexandra Lara