Accomplishments like diplomas, landing your dream job, getting married, welcoming a child, and embarking on retirement are all reasons to celebrate. Yet, when you think of these milestones you’re not usually concerned with your reproductive health—but maybe you should be.
Everything from periods to internal wellness, relationships, and motherhood play a role in the intricacies of your reproductive system. Regardless of the season of life you’re in, it’s important and beneficial to understand how to keep yours healthy.
What Exactly is My Reproductive System?
The female reproductive system is both internal and external. It includes the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix, and vagina. Your reproductive system is what allows you to get pregnant and carry a child, but it also indicates your ability to have healthy and safe sex.
Keep your reproductive system healthy by tracking your period cycle, practicing safe sex, getting tested for STDs, eating healthy, exercising, and making scheduled trips to see your OB/GYN.
Visiting your OB/GYN is a great place to start. According to the National Cancer Institute, women 21 and up, or who are sexually active, are encouraged to see an OB/GYN.
During these visits, Pap smears, breast exams, and pelvic exams are the most common tests administered to check and monitor your reproductive health. Your OB/GYN will also assess the functions of your reproductive system to make sure everything is working properly.
Your OB/GYN will ask about your sex life, make sure you’re practicing safe sex, and check that you are in a healthy relationship. They may also recommend that you get tested for STDs during your visit. All of these factors play a part in a healthy reproductive system.
If you are pregnant or considering having a child, your OB/GYN will guide you through steps to take to achieve a level of health before you get pregnant, or give you information about what a healthy pregnancy looks like. Your current state of health is important as some health issues can cause potential complications during a pregnancy. Consider a Preconception health visit with your provider. This is the best time to talk about planning for a healthy pregnancy.
If you do not desire a pregnancy in the next year, your provider can discuss contraceptive options with you. It is always a good idea to discuss with your partner your family plan: how many children do you desire? How do you want them spaced? This will help guide your conversation with your OB-GYN provider and will help him/her to give you information so that you can make the most comfortable choice.
Remember, reproductive health goes far beyond pregnancy. By treating your body well and seeing your OB/GYN routinely, you can improve your relationships, your internal health, and overall wellness.