Reproductive Health Facts
Reproductive health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. It implies a satisfying and safe sex life, the capacity to reproduce, and access to appropriate health-care services.
Health services should be woman-friendly and provide comprehensive sexuality education. They should also be integrated at the managerial level, so that all reproductive health needs receive a relatively adequate allocation of resources.
Menopause occurs when your ovaries stop producing eggs and the levels of female hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, decline. It is a normal part of the aging process and can occur in women of any age. However, in some cases, menopause can happen earlier, for example if the ovaries are damaged by disease or cancer treatments or if they are surgically removed.
Women can experience different symptoms, such as hot flashes and changes in menstruation, during this time. Some of these symptoms can be managed with lifestyle adjustments and medication. It is important to talk to your healthcare provider about these symptoms and how they affect you.
Although the possibility of pregnancy diminishes with menopause, it is still possible to get pregnant, especially during the transition period (perimenopause). This is why you should continue to use contraception even after your periods have stopped. For more information about how to prevent pregnancy, speak with your healthcare provider.
Infertility affects the reproductive health of both women and men. A woman is considered infertile if she can’t conceive after one year of trying to conceive, or six months if she is 35 or older. The cause of infertility is usually a combination of factors on both the female and male side.
A number of health conditions can affect fertility, including hyperprolactinemia (a hormone condition that interferes with ovulation), thyroid problems, polycystic ovary syndrome, endometriosis, and uterine fibroids. Women who have had recurrent miscarriages or cervical cancer are also at risk for infertility.
Access to fertility care is a major issue worldwide. Government policies could mitigate inequities by including fertility awareness as part of comprehensive sexuality education programs, promoting healthy lifestyles to reduce behavioural risks, and enabling affordable access to assisted reproductive technology.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
A sexually transmitted infection (STI) is a bacteria, virus or parasite that people can spread through vaginal, oral or anal sex. These infections can cause serious health complications, including infertility. STIs can also affect infants during pregnancy and childbirth.
Women are disproportionately affected by STIs compared to men, due to factors such as the higher efficiency of male-to-female transmission and the biology of the female reproductive tract. Untreated STIs can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility and chronic pain. Infections can also pass from a woman to her baby during delivery, leading to birth defects or preterm labor.
If you have symptoms of an STI, such as unusual discharge, a sore in the genital area or pain during sex, talk to your health care provider right away. A STI is treatable with antibiotics. Women who have a bacterial STI, like chlamydia, gonorrhea or syphilis, can get treated even while pregnant. Other STIs, such as HIV, cannot be cured, but can be managed with medications.
A woman’s reproductive systemexternal icon is delicate and complex, but with good care and control she can have a healthy pregnancy and child. To have good reproductive health, women need access to safe, effective and affordable methods of contraception, the ability to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections and a choice of how many children they want to have.
A woman’s reproductive health is also affected by her diet and the environment she lives in. Climate change can affect her and her unborn child, particularly low-income women who work outdoors or in hot kitchens, where they are often exposed to more pollutants. This is why better funding and training for birth workers in places like Florida and Sindh is so important. Providing them with the tools they need to talk to people about their climate and pregnancy needs.