The Reproductive and Sexual Health focuses on adolescent growth and development, menstruation cycle and key disorders, sex and sexuality, Reproductive Tract Infection, contraceptives and safe abortion as well as adolescence pregnancy.
The term sexual health is used to describe the absence of illness and injury associated with sexual behaviour, and a sense of sexual well-being.
Sexuality influences thoughts, feelings, interactions and actions among individuals, and motivates people to find love, contact, warmth and intimacy. It can be expressed in many different ways and is closely linked to the environment in which people live.
Reproductive health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well- being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in all matters relating to the reproductive system and to its functions and processes.
Therefore Reproductive health implies that people are able to have a satisfying and safe sex life and that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide when and how often to do so. Implicit in this last condition are the rights of men and women to be informed and to have access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of family planning of their choice, as well as other methods of their choice for regulation of fertility which are not against the law, and the right to access appropriate health-care services that will enable women to go safely through pregnancy and childbirth and provide couples with the best chance of having a healthy infant.
Sex : Sex is the biological difference between women and men
Sexuality : Sexuality includes perception, thinking, personality and behaviour of any individual. Sometimes it is related to individual or specific type of community or group of people.
Sexuality means different things to different people. Many people equate mating, being able to reproduce and common sexual behaviour (romance, kissing, physical relations, provocative behaviour, marriage) with sexuality.
Sexuality is a very broad term, which includes the sum total of a person’s personality, thinking and behaviour towards sex. It includes the identity, emotions, thoughts, actions, relationships, affection, feelings that a person has and displays. The negative aspects of sexuality also exist and include sexual coersion, eve teasing, sexual harassment, rape and prostitution.
Communicating and counselling with adolescents about sexuality can be challenging because it is a sensitive topic about which adolescents often feel emotional, defensive, and insecure.
What can health-care providers do to improve adolescents’ access to sexual and reproductive health information and services?
Adolescents seek information and clues about sexual life from a variety of sources - parents, siblings, peers, magazines, books, the mass media, etc. Whilst they receive a great deal of information from diverse sources, not all of it is correct and complete. Many adolescents lack information concerning the physical changes that occur during adolescence, their implications, and how to take care of themselves. This is often because the subject of sexuality is a sensitive one in many societies. As a healthcare provider, you can be a valuable source of accurate information and support to the adolescents you serve. You can present them with facts, respond to their questions, and provide reassurance.
In many societies, parents and other community members are concerned that the provision of information on sexuality can do more harm than good. As a health-care provider, it is important that you are very well aware that this is not true. Failure to provide adolescents with appropriate and timely information represents a missed opportunity for reducing the incidence of unwanted pregnancy and STIs, HIV and their negative consequences.
Involving gatekeepers, teachers, AWW and peers for counselling adolescentsGood communication and counselling about sexuality requires:
Adolescents must often make significant decisions on the following sexual and/ or reproductive health matters:
Most of these decisions can be worked through during counselling sessions that follow suitable approaches. Sexual abuse and violence are more difficult and require additional help.
Counselling in Cases of Sexual Abuse and/or Violence
Adolescent concerns tend to revolve around the immediate future, while the concerns of adults are for the longer term.
It is worth stressing that adolescents are a diverse group. For example, a boy of 12 is at a very different stage of personal development than a boy of 18. Similarly, he is different in psychological and social terms from a girl of 12, in addition to obvious physical differences. Social circumstances can influence personal development; for example, the health and development of a boy of 12 who is part of a caring family is likely to be very different from those of a boy of the same age who is working and earning or himself and his family. Finally, even two boys of the same age, growing up in very similar circumstances, may proceed through adolescence in different ways, and at different “speeds”. The sexual and reproductive health service needs of adolescents are correspondingly heterogeneous. Adolescents who are not yet sexually active have different needs from those who are; sexually active adolescents in stable, monogamous relationships may have different needs from those in more casual relationships. Quite different needs characterise those faced with unwanted pregnancies or infection, or those who have been coerced into sex. It is important therefore to be aware of the diversity of sexual and reproductive health needs of adolescents, and to tailor our responses to their specific needs.