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Advise: Focus on reproductive health

February was Reproductive Health Month on the Department of Health’s Health Awareness Calendar. During this period, people were made aware of health issues such as pregnancy, contraceptives, sterilisation, abortion, sexually transmitted diseases, infertility and menopause.

What is contraception?
It is the prevention of pregnancy through temporary or permanent methods. There are different types of contraception including pills and injections, devices known as loops that are inserted into the uterus, condoms for both men and women, sterilisation through a small operation for both men and women, and natural contraception. 

What can I do if I’m pregnant and HIV positive?
Go to a clinic where voluntary counseling and testing is provided. Your CD4 count will be taken to determine the extend of the disease. The chances of babies born HIV positive is much lower if steps are taken to prevent mother to child transmission.

What is infertility and what causes it?
It is when a woman cannot get pregnant. There are different causes of infertility. Some can be treated, but sometimes the causes are unknown. A low sperm count in men, as well as sexually transmitted diseases that have been left untreated or have been treated poorly, are among the causes of infertility. 

How can infertility be prevented?
Because sexually transmitted diseases are one of the main causes of infertility, such diseases should be prevented by having protected sex at all times, especially when not planning to have a baby. Sexually transmitted diseases should be treated immediately at a hospital or clinic. 

Is abortion a safe way to end pregnancy?
There are always risks involved. People are encouraged to use contraception to avoid unplanned pregnancy. Abortion should only be considered when everything else like contraception and emergency contraception has failed, preferably within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF ABORTION?

If done under unsafe conditions, it may cause severe bleeding or infection. This may cause damage to the uterus or even death. 

For more information on reproductive health call the Khomanani toll free number 0800 012 322.  Write to Vuk’uzenzele Health Advice, GCIS, Private Bag X745, Pretoria, 0001, and the Department of Health will advise you. Email us: vukuzenzele@gcis.gov.za