There are many factors that blend together to affect reproductive health. One of the most important factors is lifestyle choices such as exercising, eating right and avoiding smoking or vaping. As important as healthy habits are, they’re not the only factors that can affect reproductive health. Culture is another factor that can contribute to the health of your reproductive system. How does culture affect reproductive health?
Cultural and Sexuality
An individual’s beliefs about sexuality are formed based on what’s taught at home and in the community, which may include the neighborhood, the school and the church. Many of the choices people make are influenced by what’s socially acceptable in their culture. While this is true for people of all ages, cultural beliefs and attitudes can have an especially big impact on adolescents and young adults.
In adolescents, behavior that may be considered risky in some cultures is acceptable in others. For example, in Western cultures, behavior that may include underage drinking and sexual activity is often considered part of growing up.
Making the choice to have unprotected sex increases the risk of unplanned pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Impulsive decisions that are made during adolescence and early adulthood can lead to long-term consequences such as damage to reproductive organs and infertility.
Access to Healthcare
Within every culture, there are various sub-cultures that may be based on differences such as ethnicity, socioeconomic status or religion. Some of these sub-cultures may not have access to adequate healthcare or family planning information and may not have a clear understanding of why routine healthcare visits are important.
People may postpone seeking medical attention for cultural reasons, even when they’re experiencing symptoms that are concerning or out of the ordinary such as pelvic pain or changes in the menstrual cycle. Not having regular gynecological exams increases the risk of not being aware of having conditions like cervical cancer or pelvic inflammatory disease.
Lack of Accurate Information
In some cultures, it’s unacceptable to speak openly about sex or to ask questions. Without accurate information, it can be difficult or impossible to make smart choices about things that can affect reproductive health on a long-term basis. When a group of people don’t have the information they need to make good decisions, those who have contracted STIs or HIV don’t seek medical care. This means their illness isn’t diagnosed or treated and the risk of illnesses that are sexually transmitted quickly spreading increases.
It’s crucial for people to have the opportunity to obtain information on sexuality without fear of stigma or being condemned by their communities. Women who are pregnant need to have access to medical care throughout their pregnancy for the sake of their own health and the health of their child.
It’s important to be proactive about your overall health and your reproductive health. To make sure your reproductive system is as healthy as possible, call one of our offices at the Center for Reproductive Health to work with our experts on maintaining good reproductive health.