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Did you know that around the world, half of all pregnancies are unintended?

That means 121 million women and girls are pregnant each year throughout the world without their consent or choice! Out of these pregnancies, over 60 percent end in abortion, with 45 percent considered unsafe and 5–13% actually leading to maternal deaths.

Even if they want to avoid pregnancy, 257 million women don't have access to safe, modern methods of contraception.

What is reproductive health and why is it important?

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Reproductive health is the proper functioning of the reproductive system and processes in your body during different stages of your life.

Your reproductive health depends on different organs and hormone-producing glands. For men, these include the penis, scrotum, and testicles as well as the prostate and urethra. For women, these include the vagina, uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries.

Good reproductive health means that people are able to practice a responsible, satisfying, and safe sex life. They have the full freedom to decide if, when, and how often they want to be sexually active or get pregnant.

Reproductive health isn't just a physical aspect of well-being, it is also mental and social well-being. It's also much more than just avoiding disease.

Quiz

Hameeda married her cousin Haroon with her consent. They both decided to get pregnant. Haroon fully cared for Hameeda throughout pregnancy. After pregnancy, they both decided on birth spacing for future children. Is Hameeda practicing her rights?

How can I improve my reproductive health?

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The following practices will lead to better reproductive health:

  1. Practice safe sex.

  2. Limit alcohol, caffeine, and smoking from your diet.

  3. Stay at a healthy weight.

  4. Practice good overall but also genital hygiene.

  5. Go to a doctor and get regular health screenings.

  6. Get testing for sexually transmitted diseases.

  7. Get treatment for pains or problems.

  8. Eat a healthy diet with limited meat — try to substitute meat proteins with omega-3 fatty acids and plant-based proteins.

To help with ovulation:

  1. Take folic acid supplements regularly — this will also reduce the chance of birth defects if you plan to have a child.

  2. Maintain a healthy diet — try to limit meat, but make sure to substitute any meat proteins with omega-3 fatty acids from fish, and eat plant-based proteins.

Why can't women and girls practice their sex and reproductive choices and rights?

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  • Little to no understanding of sexual and reproductive health care and information, products & innovations

  • Lack of access & affordability to lifesaving information online

  • Community pressure, family pressure, partner coercion into sex at a young age

  • Fear of side effects or misunderstanding about contraceptive options

  • Poverty, reduced mobility and financial exclusion, stigma about one's own body and sex

  • Shame, taboos, judgmental attitudes

  • Acceptance of traditional gender roles and gender inequality

What are my sexual and reproductive rights?

Flaticon Icon Human rights that directly relate to sexuality or reproduction are called “sexual rights” or “reproductive rights.”

Sexual rights, as the name suggests, are about exercising your rights over your personal sexual activity and sexual health whereas reproductive rights concern your fertility and reproduction.

What are my sexual rights?

Flaticon Icon Right to liberty and security:

This includes the freedom to control your sexual and reproductive life.

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Right to information and education:

This means getting the right access to information and education on sexual and reproductive health and rights.

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Right to privacy:

This includes the right to make independent decisions regarding your sexual and reproductive life, as well as the privacy and respect to do so.

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Right to freedom of assembly and political participation:

If you'd like to join a non-governmental organization (NGO) advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights, this right allows you to associate, work, or advocate with them.

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Right to freedom of thought:

This includes making decisions about sexual and reproductive health and rights, seeking advice, and receiving information and ideas via any form of media. e.g. phone.

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Right to equality and to be free from all forms of discrimination:

This means no discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, color, poverty, sex or sexual orientation, marital status, family position, physical or mental disability, age, language, religion, political or other opinions, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status.

What are my reproductive rights?

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Right to life:

This includes safe motherhood practices like family planning to avoid pregnancies that carry maternal and infant mortality risks.

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Right to choose whether or not to marry:

If you don't think you're ready for marriage, this right gives you the freedom to choose when you want to tie the knot.

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Right to decide if and when to have children:

If you want to decide the number of children you want to have and the space between births of your children, this right helps you practice whether and when to have children and the means to have children.

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Right to healthcare and health protection:

All people have the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

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Right to the benefits of scientific progress:

Did you hear about new innovations in reproductive science and want to test a solution on the market? You have the right to experience the benefits of these advancements.

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Right to be free from torture and ill treatment: You have every right not to be tortured or treated cruelly, inhumanly, or in a degrading manner or used for medical or scientific treatment without free and informed consent.

Do young people have sexual and reproductive rights?

Flaticon Icon Yes, they do!

Even children should be able to develop a positive sense of their own bodies. Learning and understanding their bodies and choices can help them be free of abuse and inappropriate touching and take better decisions.

Parents and guardians can direct and guide this discussion in a powerful and positive way that safeguards the interests of children.

Take Action

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What can you do to exercise your sexual and reproductive rights?

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This Byte has been authored by

SK

Saba Khalid

Founder & CEO at Aurat Raaj