Reproductive health is an important aspect of human life as it can affect a person’s physical, mental, emotional and social health as well and India ranks very high in terms of unprotected sex with more than 72% of sexually active youth across the country. Had sex with a new partner without any protection. According to the report, at least 40 percent of young people in India say they have trouble getting the contraceptives they need.
Caring for women’s reproductive health includes lifestyle changes, regular checkups with a health care provider, and other proactive measures. In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Director of Obstetrics and Gynecology at CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram, Dr. Deepika Aggarwal suggests some ways to take care of women’s reproductive health.
- Practice safe sex: Use condoms or other forms of birth control to prevent unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
- Get regular screenings: Regular gynecological exams, including Pap tests, mammograms, and HPV tests, can help detect any abnormalities early and improve the chances of successful treatment.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and managing stress can help maintain overall health and reduce the risk of reproductive health problems.
- Address any pain or discomfort: Any pain, discomfort, or unusual discharge should be addressed immediately with a healthcare provider.
- Avoid smoking and excessive drinking: Both smoking and heavy drinking can negatively affect reproductive health and increase the risk of certain cancers.
- Know your family history: Knowing your family’s history of reproductive health problems can help you and your healthcare provider make informed decisions about screening and prevention.
- Stay up-to-date on vaccines: Getting vaccinated against certain diseases, such as HPV, can help prevent reproductive health problems.
- Consider alternative menstrual products: Menstrual cups or cloth pads are environmentally friendly and can be more comfortable than traditional disposable products.
- Find support: Seeking support from friends, family, or a healthcare provider can help manage any reproductive health issues or concerns.
Pratibha Pandey, Senior Health Specialist, ChildFund India, said, “There are various myths about women’s reproductive health, especially in rural areas of the country. These myths are based on superstition, lack of scientific knowledge, stigma and gender discrimination. In my experience, I have seen that women seem to be the only ones responsible for infertility in couples, women who cannot conceive are ostracized by the family because of infertility. However, the fact is that men are just as likely to be infertile as women.”
She added, “Other myths surround menstruation, the common belief being that women shed impure blood during menstruation and therefore, they are not allowed to bathe during menstruation. Adolescent peer educators need to be trained on fertility and sexuality to spread awareness. This will ensure that age-old myths are dispelled, and a scientific temper is established. Some other ways to take care of reproductive health are to maintain cleanliness around your intimate areas, choose cotton underwear as it helps in air circulation and go for regular screenings/tests. Reproductive and sexual health is important for adolescents as it helps them reflect on social norms, cultural values and traditional beliefs to better understand and manage their relationships with peers, parents, teachers, other adults and their communities.
Swastima Policy and Advocacy Catalyst Asha Jyoti highlighted, “Maternal and child health indicators are the litmus test for assessing health systems and human development. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) target of maternal mortality is 70 per 100,000 live births but states like Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur report figures of over 280. India accounts for 15% of all maternal deaths in the world, second only to Nigeria. 19%. We are in the grip of climate change, with an El-Nino-induced drought warning issued for the upcoming kharif season in India. An increase of one degree Celsius before delivery increases the chance of stillbirth by six percent.”
She disclosed, “Heat wave increases the number of complications in pregnant women such as dehydration, malnutrition, anemia, premature birth and high fetal heart rate (called fetal stress). Besides heat, air pollution can cause low birth weight and premature birth. Rising mental health problems and increased risk of violence and insecurity go hand in hand in such a scenario. It is imperative to ensure sustainable cold solutions, basic but vital nutrients like zinc and iron, cooking fuels and flexible modes of counseling and screening for the whole range of health and wellbeing issues faced by a new or expectant mother.”