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Definition of Reproductive and Sexual Health

Reproductive health is a broad concept which encompasses a range of physical, psychological, and social elements that play a role in the reproduction. Similarly, sexual health combines all those aspects but in relation to sexuality. Good reproductive health is not available to all, and those who lack it the most are men and women of low socioeconomic status. In particular, women of low socioeconomic status are more prone to HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, and unwanted pregnancies than their financially stable counterparts. These women are in many cases not included in the decision making process about safe sex or even about engaging in sexual activity. As a result, they are more likely to have health problems. Having their partners participate in the reproductive health as well as making sure they have access to enough information about their own well being would greatly reduce the risk of suffering from reproductive system disorders. Women in the developing world are in need of a support system comprised of close friends and family which would enable them to make educated decisions about their reproductive health. It should be noted that in the developing world more than half the budget designated for baby friendly hospitals is spent on dealing with unsafe abortion consequences. In addition, in many regions of Africa, an average woman bares 5 children, while only 10 percent of the female population utilizes some form of contemporary birth control.

Family Planning

Over 100 million women in the developing countries do not have access to family planning services, which promote assistance regarding reproductive health. Access to birth control and ability to choose the number of children are some of the issues that family planning centers focus on. As a result of an increase in population, there has also been an increase in unplanned pregnancies. Family planning services educate men and women about the consequences of unsafe abortions and unwanted pregnancies in order to decrease the number of deaths that occur during such abortions as well as during labor. When it comes to birth control, around 60 percent of women in Egypt use diaphragms, while in Morocco not even 10 percent of females use contraception at all. The wide use of birth control methods across the countries depends on many factors such as the socioeconomic status, availability of family planning services, education, and ethnicity. For instance, just below 30 percent of women use contraceptive methods in Africa compared to over 60 percent in Asia. General awareness and public policy also play a substantial role in the usage of birth control.

Additional Aspect of Sexual and Reproductive Health in the Developing World

The biggest concerns in sexual and reproductive health are unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions. There are almost 100 million unwanted pregnancies that occur every year around the world, and only about half are discontinued of one’s own free will. When it comes to unsafe abortions, around 20 million take place annually, with 97 percent occurring in the developing countries. Almost 70 000 result in the death of the woman. An abortion is considered unsafe if it is performed by a layman or in unsanitary medical conditions. A whopping 95 percent of abortions in the developing countries are considered illegal or unsafe. Such interventions are often followed by short term or long term medical complications while the women are in many cases unable to seek treatment. Women in Africa are 60 times more likely to die from an abortion compared to women undergoing such a procedure in the developed world. As previously mentioned, involving the partners of women who are at risk for suffering from poor reproductive health in their medical initiatives, while at the same time reducing family violence, and educating women about their reproductive rights are sure pathways to better global health. In addition, physical and sexual violence that many women in the developing countries are subjected to are also important elements of the reproductive health. Women who suffer from abuse from their partners have fewer rights to decide whether to engage in sexual activities, and are more prone to contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. One of the reasons as to why this might be is because abusive men tend to have multiple sexual partners. Consequently, abused women are less likely to talk about using birth control, and in turn are at a higher risk of an unwanted pregnancy and unsafe abortion.

Sexual and Reproductive Health in the Developed World

Differences between the developing and the developed world in sexual education, awareness, and practice of safe sex are significant. For instance, birth control pills are the most common type of contraception among young Australian women. Also, women in the developed countries are only slightly more likely to seek information about reproductive and sexual health than men. Also, young women are at a slightly higher risk for contracting gonorrhea and Chlamydia than young men. Despite being more educated and with a better socioeconomic standard than their African counterparts, women in the developed world are still more prone to sexual and reproductive health problems than their partners.

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