Reproductive health generally has to do with those medical conditions related to the reproductive tract, and it generally encompasses ensuring that individuals are able to reproduce and to freely make reproductive choices for themselves. A person who enjoys good reproductive health is able to have children, as well as to choose when to have children and how many children to have. Threats can include unplanned pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and other reproductive issues such as infertility. For women, reproductive health often ensures providing protection against unplanned pregnancy, as well as pre- and post-natal care for pregnant women. Ensuring that expectant mothers enjoy the safest possible birth is another aspect of reproductive health.
Sexually transmitted diseases may be one of the biggest threats to both male and female reproductive health. Hundreds of millions of people each year are diagnosed with sexually transmitted infections that can be cured, such as gonorrhea or chlamydia. Many more may be diagnosed with sexually transmitted diseases that cannot be cured, including genital herpes and HIV/AIDS. The regular and appropriate use of female or male latex condoms is believed to significantly reduce the chances that disease could be spread during sexual intercourse. Other methods of protecting against sexually transmitted diseases include totally abstaining from sexual activity, or having sex exclusively within a mutually monogamous relationship with a partner free of sexually transmitted disease.
Many sexually transmitted diseases can have serious consequences for reproductive and general health. Complications of sexually transmitted diseases can include infertility, painful acute symptoms, and death. Some sexually transmitted diseases can spread to infants in the womb, or during birth, from an infected mother. Preventing and treating these diseases is, therefore, considered crucial to preserving public reproductive health.
Experts believe that, in order to maintain reproductive health, both men and women should have access to resources to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases, and to treatment for other medical conditions affecting the reproductive organs. Experts advocate the extension of reproductive choice to both men and women, so that family planning can occur without the threat of unwanted pregnancy. Pregnant women generally need prenatal care, and post-natal follow-up care. Childbirth should be made as safe as possible, to minimize the risk of disease or fatality among both mothers and infants.