Important Things You Should Know About Reproductive Health
Getting married and starting a family is a life goal shared by everyone regardless of race, religion or culture. Newly married couples often take planned parenthood for granted. They often fail to realize that like other body organs, the reproductive system is a complex, physiological phenomenon affected by multiple factors, including hormones, diet, and stress.
Being a taboo subject, many young men and women are unaware of the basics of reproductive health. The concept of fertility is surrounded by myths in our culture, which begins a vicious cycle of stress leading to hormonal imbalance and reproductive problems.
Monitor the Menstrual Cycle
Menstrual cycles differ from woman to woman in terms of length, quantity, and pre-menstrual syndromes. What is normal for someone can be abnormal for another. It is imperative that every woman understands her own menstrual cycle. Many gynecologists recommend maintaining a Menstrual Diary, especially in the first few years. Girls record the date they began their period, how long it lasted, and any other related features. Soon they note a pattern developing every month and begin to understand what to expect and when.
Chances of pregnancy are highest at the time of ovulation (i.e. when eggs are released from the ovaries). This occurs around 12-14 days after the first day of the menstrual cycle.
Learn about Contraceptives
Family planning is being encouraged now, more than ever. Despite that couples are not fully educated about the advantages and disadvantages of the different contraceptive methods. Instead of asking a healthcare professional, couples turn to friends for advice, which may not always provide the desired outcome.
Contraceptive methods (such as condoms, birth control pills, IUDs, etc.) have varying efficacies, side effects, and comfort levels. Reliable data in the form of summary sheets and comparison charts can be found on all medical websites. They can help each couple decide what suits them the best. This also prepares them for the expected side-effects of the contraceptive (such as bleeding or discharge) and provides accurate information about failure rates of each contraceptive method.
Know When to See a Doctor
Slight variations in the menstrual cycles are normal. But women should know that very heavy or irregular bleeding should be discussed with a doctor. Excess bleeding is usually due to abnormalities of the uterine wall. More commonly, the conditions are benign and can be controlled by medications or surgery. Nonetheless, it should be kept in mind that uterine cancer can also have the same symptoms. Therefore, a gynecologist should be contacted as soon as possible.
Other abnormal signs include itching, burning or excessive vaginal discharge which are usually the result of infections. Some infections come under the category of STDs (sexually transmitted diseases). Therefore it is important to get them diagnosed and treated promptly, otherwise they may transfer to the patient’s sexual partner.
Consider Male Factors
The male sperm is responsible for fertilizing the female eggs, resulting in pregnancy. In some cases, men develop abnormalities in quantity or quality of sperm, which hinders the chances of fertilization.
Another frequently encountered male reproductive problem is erectile dysfunction. In this problem men are not able to keep an erection firm enough for intercourse. The causes range from diabetes to stress. Therefore treatment is often targeted towards psychological rather than physiological issues.
To conclude, reproductive health is an important aspect of our lives. But due to the stigma attached to it in our culture, young men and women often have misconceptions, instigated by cultural myths. These issues not only affect our physical health, but can also have a negative impact on our psychological and social well-being, causing serious long-term consequences.