Reproductive health is defined as “the condition of male and female reproductive systems during all life stages,” . The World Health Organization also defines it as people having the ability to reproduce, to regulate fertility, and to practice and enjoy sexual relationships,” . Topics can include, “family planning, reproductive tract infections such as sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS, infertility, maternal mortality and morbidity, unsafe abortion, reproductive tract cancers, and traditional harmful practices such as female genital cutting,” . Reproductive systems are “made of organs and hormone-producing glands, including the pituitary gland in the brain,” ovaries being relative to females and testicles being relative to males . These organs also “function as glands because they produce and release hormones,” . Women have more medical burden regarding reproductive health, as well as deal with “the way society treats or mistreats them because of their gender,” . Studies show that the top 5 causes behind disease burden for women are “maternal, sexually-transmitted diseases, tuberculosis, HIV infection, and depressive disorders,” while for men it’s “HIV infection, tuberculosis, motor vehicle injuries, homicide and violence, and war,” . It is important to research disease for the sake of personal health and the health of others . The impact of reproductive health is especially important because STDs fall under the category of communicable diseases that are difficult to control the spread of . There is an unfair burden on women when it comes to reproductive health for “biological and social reasons,” one being social discrimination . Additionally, there are other discriminative roots in reproductive health. In their 2016 analysis, Gubirum et al. found that the push for Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) “prioritizes on an individual-level behavior interventions and further perpetuates inequity by not addressing broader systemic injustices,” such as “lack of a living wage, housing insecurity, and profound histories of disenfranchisement and discrimination,” . Reproductive health can have an impact on our population, as there is a big spectacle around it, and it has impacted many laws .
In a 1997 analysis by Lake et al. regarding a 1958 British cohort study to “determine whether body mass index (BMI) in adulthood or childhood affects the reproductive health of women,” it is mentioned that the study collected the “heights, weights, and reproductive data” of 5,799 females at the ages of 7, 11, 16, 23, and 33 . Weight/height was used to determine BMI .
Lake et al. found that “early menarcheal age was associated with higher risks of menstrual problems by 16 y but the relationship did not persist to 33 y,” . Lake et al. also found that obesity was a large factor in menstrual and pregnancy problems, including increased “risk of hypertension in pregnancy” at age 23 and increased “risk of menstrual problems” at age 33 . Overall, it was found that obesity and overweightness in early adulthood had more of an impact on reproductive health than in childhood .
To meet reproductive health needs, it requires more attention to reduce risks of vulnerability and poor reproductive outcomes. There should be services for reproductive health needs. There are risks and factors that can affect our reproductive health like age, lifestyle, and overall health. There are health screenings and assessments that patients should consider, however, there are also barriers to seek help in healthcare.
1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Reproductive health. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Retrieved May 6, 2022, from https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/conditions/repro-health/index.cfm
2. Fathalla M. F. (1991). Reproductive health: a global overview. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 626, 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1749-6632.1991.tb37894.x
3. Fathalla, M. (1997). ISSUES IN REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH. United Nations. Retrieved May 5, 2022, from https://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/issues.htm
4. Gubrium, A. C., Mann, E. S., Borrero, S., Dehlendorf, C., Fields, J., Geronimus, A. T., Gómez, A. M., Harris, L. H., Higgins, J. A., Kimport, K., Luker, K., Luna, Z., Mamo, L., Roberts, D., Romero, D., & Sisson, G. (2016). Realizing Reproductive Health Equity Needs More Than Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC). American journal of public health, 106(1), 18–19. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2015.302900
5. Lake, J., Power, C. & Cole, T. Women's reproductive health: the role of body mass index in early and adult life. Int J Obes 21, 432–438 (1997). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ijo.0800424
Authors: Sara Giarnieri and Diya Jacob
Editor: Sara Giarnieri
Health scientist: Diya Jacob