There is an old saying that “health is wealth”. Well, absolutely a healthy person is the most blessed person. But what is health? According to a definition given by the World Health Organisation (WHO), health is a state of social, mental and physical well-being of a person as well as the absence of diseases or infirmity.
Reproductive health is determined as a healthy reproductive and sexual system and function at all stages of life. Reproductive health includes all physical, social as well as psychological aspects of reproduction and sexuality.
What does Reproductive Health Imply?
Reproductive health necessitates the importance of a safe, satisfying, responsible and consensual sex life and the ability to reproduce according to a person’s free will about how and when to have an offspring or sexual intercourse. Another interpretation of this is to make people informed and aware of safe and appropriate methods of sexual and reproductive health. This can be done with the help of medicines, education about sex, pregnancy and safe childbirth in women. These education programmes stress the need for a healthy reproductive life for women, as well as having available health care services to have a healthy baby.
Women’s Reproductive Health
Reproductive health is a wide subject especially when it comes to women. There are numerous factors associated with women’s reproductive health which undergo various complex stages right from menarche (start of monthly menstrual cycle) to menopause (the end of the cycle). It is very delicate, and it is important to take care of its health to avoid health problems in future for you and your children. Proper care and preconception health both in males and females during childbearing age will be helpful in having a healthy life and healthy children in the future.
Discussed below are some common issues of women health regarding sex and reproduction.
There are several methods to avoid unplanned pregnancy. Various methods are available including intrauterine contraception, hormonal injections and sterilisation (a method of permanent birth control). Various researches have been done to check the accuracy and safety of these methods.
There are various cases that prevail the increased ratio of depression in women associated with reproductive factors. Many women of reproductive age suffer from depression from problems like infertility, not getting pregnant, abortion, miscarriages, stillbirth etc. depression is also common among women who are pregnant, during childbirth or postpartum depression. In most of the cases, the patient herself does not know the exact reason for depression.
The are ways like counselling which can prove to be helpful in reducing the symptoms. A meeting with your health professional is the first step to resolve the issue.
Uterine problems are quite common among women above the age of 60. Sometimes the problems may occur in young women resulting from an injury, accident or medical reasons like cancer or hormonal disorders etc. At this stage, sometimes the only option left out is a hysterectomy. Hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus. The process may also involve removing the cervix, fallopian tubes and ovaries.
Infertility is the term used for women with a reproductive problem, when they’re unable to get pregnant after trying.
There are various reasons of infertility like endometriosis, fibroids, cysts etc. the problem can be cured with the medical help if the underlying cause is curable.
- Endometriosis is an inflammatory disorder that affects the uterus of women, a prime organ of the female reproductive system where a foetus is developed during pregnancy. Normally the tissue lining is developed inside the uterus but in endometriosis, this tissue is developed in other areas instead of the uterus. The tissue may grow on ovaries, bladder, behind the uterus etc. This abnormal growth of tissues in a misplaced manner can cause pain, swelling, infertility and heavy menstrual flow. Women suffering from this problem find difficulty in conceiving a baby as well as severe pain in abdomen, pelvis and lower back areas.
- Uterine fibroids are a common type of non-cancerous tumour in women. It mostly affects the women of the childbearing age. They are made up of muscle cells that grow in the surrounding areas of the uterus. While the exact cause of fibroid is still unknown. Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids are:
- Heavy bleeding during periods
- A feeling of being full in the lower abdomen
- Frequent Urination
- Pain while having sex
- Lower back pain
- Multiple miscarriages
In many women, sometimes these symptoms do not appear or are not so severe, but the problem is still present. Therefore, it is better to have a complete check-up if belonging to the same age group.
- Gynaecological Cancer. There are various types of these cancers. They start from the lower pelvic area of women in any of the reproductive organs. Following are the types of gynaecological cancers:
- Cervical cancer occurs in the cervix, a narrow and long end or opening of the uterus.
- Ovarian cancer occurs in the egg-producing organ located on each side of the uterus.
- Uterine cancer is a cancer of the uterus, a pear-shaped reproductive organ where foetus growth takes place.
- Vaginal cancer starts from the vaginal opening which is a hollow tube between uterus and external part of the body.
- Vulvar cancer
- Interstitial Cystitis is the inflammation of the bladder. It results in recurrent discomfort or pain in the pelvic area. Interstitial Cystitis causes the inflammation and irritation causing swelling in the walls of the bladder. The problem is more common in women than men. Symptoms of IC are:
- Abdominal discomfort
- Frequent and feeling of urgency in urination
- Intense Pelvic pressure
- Tenderness in the pelvic area
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is the formation of water filled vesicles called cysts developing on the walls of ovaries due to the production of abnormal male hormones by adrenal glands or ovaries of women. PCOS is more common in obese women as well as posing a greater risk of diabetes and heart problems in these women. Symptoms of PCOS are:
- Pain in the pelvic area
- Excessive growth of hairs on body parts like face, toes, stomach etc
- Patches of dark skin
Male Reproductive Health
Reproductive health us usually associated with women only, however, it is a major component of a man’s overall health too. Most of the reproductive issues like contraception, fertility is referred to women only and men are overlooked completely in this matter. Men along with their partners should protect themselves from reproductive disorders by adopting preventive measures like proper contraception method, protection against STD’s and infertility problems.
Common Diseases among Men and Women
There are various few diseases, problems or infections that are an equal threat for both the genders. These are discussed below:
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
A major reproductive disease among both the genders is sexually transmitted diseases. As the name indicates that these infectious diseases are transferred to another person’s body if they are involved in unprotected sex with a carrier. There are as many as 20 types of STD’s. These can be bacterial, viral and parasitic in nature.
Sexually transmitted diseases can equally affect males and females, but the condition becomes worse if the women are pregnant. STD can be a serious threat to an unborn baby and can even be transmitted to the baby during birth.
The bacterial STD’s can be treated with the help of antibacterial drugs, but viral STD’s do not have any treatment. Antiviral drugs can only control the symptoms of the disease. Sometimes health care professionals can control the situation with the help of medications. Use of latex condoms is also an option used for protection from getting STD during sex, but it is not 100% effective, therefore the risk of transmission is still present there.
Human Immune Deficiency Virus (HIV):
Human immune deficiency virus is the virus which attacks the specific cells of the immune system known as CD4 cells. The virus affects so many cells at a time that slowly the immune system is not able to fight the diseases and become more prone to disease attacks. Once the person becomes affected with HIV the infection cannot be relieved and it will remain there for the rest of life. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the viral infection at present. However, by giving proper care the infection and its symptoms can be controlled.
When HIV affects the immune system of the body, it’s called AIDS. AIDS is the last stage of infection due to the severe infection caused to the immune system.
There are various reasons for getting an infection. Men and women can get HIV while having sex with an infected person, having any kind of blood or serum transfusion or by sharing needles with diseases person.
HIV infection is a dangerous problem, but the situation becomes worse when the infected person is a pregnant woman. All pregnant women should undergo a test to know the HIV status. If unfortunately, a woman is pregnant and is HIV positive should immediately acquire medical help. There are preventive methods which can be used to prevent the child of infected women from getting an infection during pregnancy, delivery and afterwards while breastfeeding the child. There will be more chances of success if the women are having proper consultations with health professional as well as came to know about her HIV status during early pregnancy.
Adolescents Sexual Health and its Awareness
Adolescents are often left in the dark when it comes to talking about reproductive and sexual health. It is necessary to put the focus on educating young people, giving knowledge about healthy lifestyles that prevent adolescents from becoming involved in unprotected and unhealthy sexual activities. Reproductive health is not only about sex-related information, rather it is a complete education about their personal hygiene and understanding the physiology of another organ system of their body to avoid any kind of diseases.
In the light of WHO definition of reproductive health, sexual education should be given to young adults to educate them about having a safe and acceptable method of fertilisation, right to approach and access to healthcare providing body that enables young women to have to safely undergo the period of pregnancy and childbirth. Along with government bodies, many international NGO’s are also working to educate teens about making the right decisions in their lives.
Ways of keeping the Reproductive system healthy
As discussed above, the infectious, as well as non-infectious diseases of the reproductive system, are a serious threat. In order to avoid these problems various ways can be adopted which keep the reproductive system healthy. The first and foremost need for a healthy system is to adopt a healthy lifestyle and eat a balanced diet. Same is the case with the reproductive system.
To keep your reproductive system healthy, you should:
- Always eat a diet which is high in fibre contents and low in fats.
- Plenty of intake of water is necessary.
- Avoid using any kind of recreational drugs, alcohol, tobacco etc.
- Try to get rid of stress and anxiety
- Maintain body weight
- Adopt the habit of exercising daily.
- Proper and adequate sleep
Personal hygiene and taking care of cleanliness around you always bring good changes in a person’s health. It is very important to keep your external genitals cleans to keep your internal system free of bacterial invasion and other problems. All you must do is a daily shower and change your inner wears regularly. There is no need to use a lot of chemical products on your body or genitals as many are harmful instead of being useful to the body.
Avoiding Blood contact
Blood contact can be a major source of transmission of various diseases. Direct contact with contaminated blood can be a vector in spreading HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Avoid having dental treatment, a tattoo, piercing or an injection unless you are sure about the sterilisation of the needle. In case of need always use an unused new sterilised equipment. This is the only way to prevent a problem.
Avoid having unprotected sex
Another important need to avoid sexual diseases is to avoid having unprotected sex.
Adopt Preventive measures during sports
If you are a male sportsman, it is better for you to wear protective cups to avoid any injury to testes.
Try to have a self-examination or regular check-ups to keep a check on testes cancer.
Menstrual Hygiene in women
Women and young girls should adopt hygienic precautions during monthly cycles. Try to use clean pads or tampons or other products during bleeding days. Make a habit to change sanitary product every 6 to 8 hours to avoid bacterial infection.
Especially in case of women using tampons, never leave a tampon inside for a long duration as it can cause toxic shock syndrome. Symptoms of TSS are sudden and can be dangerous for the body as they involve shock fever and several functional problems to body organs.
Breast Cancer Check-up
Women should adopt a habit of self-examination to avoid breast cancer. In many underdeveloped countries, breast cancer is becoming a silent killer. Although breast cancer appears in the late 40s in most cases, it is good to start a habit right from your teens.
Conclusively, the only way to take care of your health is to avoid unhealthy practices and having proper and safe methods of sex life and reproductive care as well as making people aware of the problems before they penetrate the community.
- https://www.nhs.uk › Health A-Z › Infertility