What do we mean by sexual and reproductive health and why is it important ?!
Sexual and Reproductive health
What does it mean?
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 a safe sexual life, the capability to reproduce, and the freedom to decide if, when, and how often to do so.

To maintain one’s sexual and reproductive health, people need access to accurate information and the safe, effective, affordable and acceptable contraception method of their choice. They must be informed and empowered to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections. And when they decide to have children, women must have access to services that can help them have a proper pregnancy, safe delivery and healthy baby.

Every individual has the right to make their own choices about their sexual and reproductive health. UNFPA, together with a wide range of partners, works toward the goal of universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, including family planning. (1)

Why is this important?
• Lack of adequate reproductive health services (including contraception and comprehensive abortion care) and gender based violence including sexual violence can lead to a range of adverse outcomes:
1. Trauma
2. Sexually transmitted infections
3. Possible spread of HIV
4. Unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions
5. Maternal and neonatal deaths
• An estimated 358,000 maternal deaths occur annually. 99% of these occur in the developing world; 87% in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.4
• In any emergency situation, one in five women of childbearing age is likely to be pregnant.5
• Countries in conflict or experiencing other forms of instability often experience the highest rates of maternal and neonatal mortality. (2)
When sexual and reproductive health needs are not met, individuals are deprived of the right to make crucial choices about their own bodies and futures, with a cascading impact on their families’ welfare and future generations. And because women bear children, and also often bear the responsibility for nurturing them, sexual and reproductive health and rights issues cannot be separated from gender equality. Cumulatively, the denial of these rights exacerbates poverty and gender inequality.
This is seen most acutely in developing countries, where reproductive health problems are a leading cause of ill health and death for women and girls of childbearing age. Impoverished women suffer disproportionately from unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortion, maternal death and disability, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), gender-based violence, and other related problems.
Young people are also extremely vulnerable, often facing barriers to sexual and reproductive health information and care. Young people are disproportionately affected by HIV, for example, and every year millions of girls face unintended pregnancies, exposing them to risks during childbirth or unsafe abortions and interfering with their ability to go to school. (1)
People in good reproductive health, including the forcibly displaced, are not only able to have a satisfying and a safe sexual life but also to have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so.
Access to quality reproductive health services, including adequate emergency obstetric care, can drastically reduce the number of women who die during or after childbirth and ensure that mothers and their children enjoy a healthy life.
Reproductive health education for adults and young people is also important, helping to raise awareness about, maternal health, family planning, the fall-out from sexual violence, female genital mutilation, sexually transmitted diseases, and HIV. (3)
A life cycle approach:
Reproductive health is a lifetime concern for both women and men, from infancy to old age. Evidence shows that reproductive health in any of these life stages has a profound effect on one's health later in life. so we need supports programmes tailored to the different challenges people face at different times in their lives, including comprehensive sexuality education, family planning, antenatal and safe delivery care, post-natal care, services to prevent sexually transmitted infections (including HIV), and services facilitating early diagnosis and treatment of reproductive health illnesses (including breast and cervical cancer).

To support reproductive health throughout the life cycle, services across a variety of sectors must be strengthened, from health and education systems to even transport systems – which are required to ensure health care is accessible. And all efforts to support sexual and reproductive health rely on the availability of essential health supplies, such as contraceptives, life-saving medicines and basic medical equipment. (1)
- Reproductive health is a human right.
- Sexual and reproductive health (SRH) is a significant public health issue, including in emergencies
- A range of adverse outcomes can be prevented by timely provision of healthcare services before and after emergencies.
- Safe pregnancies and childbirth depend on sufficient numbers of trained healthcare workers and adequate facilities for providing essential and emergency care.
- Comprehensive, high quality reproductive health care requires input from all sectors: protection, nutrition, education, and community services, as well as health.
- Promoting SRH through primary health care at all times, including in emergencies, consists of family planning and comprehensive abortion care, prenatal care, skilled childbirth care; and post-natal care for the mother and baby. (2)
1. https://www.unfpa.org/sexual-reproductive-health
2. https://www.who.int/hac/events/drm_fact_sheet_sexual_and_reproductive_health.pdf?ua=1
3. https://www.unhcr.org/reproductive-health.html?query=sexual%20and%20reproductive%20health
2019-03-11 17:23:41