Women’s reproductive health is a hot-button issue. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines the female reproductive system as: “a delicate and complex system in the body” that needs protection in order to control your overall health. No matter what a person’s beliefs are concerning sex, it’s a fact that reproductive maintenance is just one aspect of taking care of yourself. There are perhaps just as many misconceptions about women’s reproductive health as there are arguments against freedom of care. Know the facts so you’re better informed and able to participate in voting for laws that protect women’s health.
When many people think of the term “reproductive health,” they automatically think of just sex and pregnancy. This is one of the reasons why many politicians—who are also predominantly male—get things wrong when making laws concerning women’s health. Women’s reproductive health refers to care for numerous aspects of the female body. These include the:
Contraception (birth control) is just one aspect of reproductive health. Young women may require treatment for menstrual disorders or certain infections. Due to the influence of hormone changes and imbalances, depression is a health issue doctors and nurses look for in young women. Education is yet another aspect of reproductive healthcare some people neglect. Without understanding the human body and how to care for it, many young women are left in the dark. Not knowing how to care for your health can become even more dangerous if you fall ill.
Women’s health maintenance also requires regular testing to detect related cancers and other medical issues. Young women who are sexually active are also encouraged to undergo regular testing for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Some STDs, such as the human papillomavirus (HPV) can lead to cervical cancer.
Reproductive health isn’t just exclusive to women in the middle of their reproductive years. As you age, this aspect of healthcare also deals with menopause. Breast cancer risk increases with age, so the role of reproductive health can include detection tools such as mammograms. The key is for young women to establish healthy habits and regular reproductive health screenings early in life so they will stick with it as they age.
Maintaining reproductive health can involve contraception, but the primary goal for all women should be to take care of their overall health. Choosing a physician involves choices. Not everyone is expected to go to the same doctor’s office, so it’s unreasonable to believe that women should only have one choice when it comes to taking care of their reproductive health. Clinics may offer more options than a traditional doctor’s office. This is especially the case for young women who don’t have the disposable income to pay a lot for their healthcare. The South Carolina Free Clinic Association alone treated 34,000 patients statewide in 2007 alone. Clinics can help women with all aspects of their reproductive health, and not just contraception as many people incorrectly believe.
Reproductive health issues continue to be prominent in many political debates. Reproductive health is a human right, but many of the facts are skewed, whether it’s due to misinformation, or differences in religious and cultural beliefs. Furthermore, despite some of the positive outcomes of contraception, South Carolina has enacted laws that restrict women’s reproductive freedom. If you consider reproductive freedom an essential right to women’s health, it’s important to get out and vote for the leaders who support the same values. The next opportunity to vote in South Carolina is November 4, 2014. Positive change cannot be accomplished without registering and enacting your right to vote
Author Bio: Kristeen Cherney is a freelance health and lifestyle writer who also has a certificate in nutrition. Her work has been published on numerous health-related websites with a focus on women’s health issues. Previously, she worked as a communications and marketing professional. Kristeen holds a BA in Communication from Florida Gulf Coast University, and is currently pursuing an MA in English with a concentration in rhetoric and cultural studies. When she's not writing or studying, she enjoys walking, kick-boxing, yoga and traveling.