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“Good sexual and reproductive health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being in all matters relating to the reproductive system. It implies that people are able to have a satisfying and safe sex life, the capability to reproduce, and the freedom to decide if, when, and how often to do so.” - United Nations Population FundSexual and reproductive health, a subject that often lacks sufficient literature and education during the essential growing-up years, is also a subject that lacks self-education in adults. Think you know everything there is about your sexual and reproductive health? Think again and make sure you have all the right information!
Lifecycle Approach to Sexual and Reproductive Health
Did you know that reproductive health is a lifetime concern? It begins in infancy, plays a crucial part during adolescence and adulthood, and continues to be a key health factor well past the reproductive years for both men and women. There’s evidence to prove that reproductive health and wellness in all stages of life has a deep impact on your health later in life. The challenges that many face during each of these phases include lack of adequate sex education for the young; lack of information on the choices pertaining to family planning during adulthood; lack of access to safe antenatal, delivery and post-natal care, particularly in the hinterlands; lack of initiatives on awareness and preventive education on sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as HIV; and lack of awareness on early diagnosis and treatment of reproductive health illnesses such as cervical and breast cancer in later years.
Importance of Reproductive Health
Reproductive health goes beyond sex and procreation; it is a holistic approach to ensure reproductive wellness at every stage of the lifecycle. From ensuring healthy pregnancies and healthy infants to screening and preventing communicable diseases and age-related ailments, reproductive health can be aided on only with a clear understanding of what our bodies can be susceptible to and measures to actively prevent these risk factors. Education, choice (birth control /planned parenthood), and access to reliable medical care remain the three essential elements to ensure male and female reproductive health. When sexual and reproductive health needs are hindered, it has a cascading effect on the individual’s family welfare as well. Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are a fundamental concept of human rights that applies to sexuality and reproduction, encompassing four fields: sexual health, sexual rights, reproductive health and reproductive rights. Find more information on SRHR here.
How to Improve Reproductive Health?
From a broader perspective, things that can improve reproductive health:
- Age appropriate and comprehensive sex education
- Access to contraceptive services for adolescents and adults
- Cost effective family planning
- Ensuring maternal and child health
Reproductive health is also a personal responsibility. Here’s what you can do to ensure you stay on the right track:
- Exercise and maintain a healthy weight
- Eat healthy according to your body’s needs
- Practice safe sex
- Get vaccinated for preventable conditions such as Hepatitis B and some types of HPV
- Regular health screening can help prevent STIs and other conditions that you can be genetically susceptible to such as some forms of cancer
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