Reproductive Health

Taking care of your reproductive health includes access to effective and affordable contraception methods the ability to protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections.

Contraceptive Options

There are many options available for preventing pregnancy, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. If you are sexually active and don’t want to get pregnant, you can explore the range of contraceptive choices available.

You can download our birth control method comparison chart and print out a copy to bring to your healthcare provider, so your provider can help you make the choice that’s best for you.

ASHA’s Sex+Health Podcast

There are about 61 million women of reproductive age in the United States, many of whom will use some type of birth control for several decades. There are lots of options available, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. In this episode we’re talking with Dr. Noor Dasouki Abu-Alnadi, known as “Dr. Noor” to her patients, to explore what’s available including several new and exciting options.   

How women choose birth control

Listen to real women discuss their choices.

More Resources

Protecting Your Fertility

You can begin protecting your fertility well before you are ready to start a family. Nutrition, a healthy lifestyle and decisions about sexual behavior influence a person’s ability to conceive a child and a woman’s ability have a safe delivery. In the ideal situation, you will be able to:

  • Choose if and when you want to conceive a child
  • Biologically conceive a child
  • Deliver a healthy infant

Most people don’t realize that their reproductive health system is the most fragile system in the body. You need to know how to protect your future fertility. The decisions you make as a young person can affect your ability to have children later in life. By engaging in unprotected sex, you put yourself at risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). When STIs go untreated they can cause fertility problems. For example:

Chlamydia and gonorrhea: Fifteen percent of all American cisgender women who are infertile can attribute it to tubal damage caused by pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID is an infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes and other reproductive organs. It often results from untreated STIs, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea. PID can lead to serious consequences that affect a woman’s ability to have a baby, her experience during pregnancy and delivery, and the well being of her newborn.

Genital herpes: Generally, herpes doesn’t usually have severe health consequences and doesn’t usually interfere with a person’s ability to become pregnant. In rare circumstances, however, herpes infections can affect the well being of the newborn infant. For this reason people who are thinking about becoming pregnant or are already pregnant should talk with their healthcare provider about protecting their baby.

HIV: It is recommended that all pregnant women get tested before their baby is born. While routine testing for all populations is important to prevent the spread of HIV, it is especially important for expectant mothers. HIV can be passed between a mother and child during labor, and later through breastfeeding. By testing in advance, women and their doctors can create plans to protect the well being of their unborn children. Through medical treatments during delivery and feeding practices thereafter, HIV positive pregnant women can have HIV negative children.

What you can do to protect yourself and your fertility:

  • Use condoms correctly and consistently every time you have sex.
  • Limit the number of sexual partners you have.
  • Get an annual physical where you request annual chlamydia and gonorrhea screenings (strongly recommended for cisgender women 25 and under).
  • Get tested and ask your sexual partners to get tested (before you start having sex!)
  • Recognize when you are in an abusive relationship and know who to call.

Misconceptions about LARC Methods

Learn the facts about common misconceptions about long acting reversible contraception.

Understanding LARC

Learn the basics about IUDs and implants, two long acting reversible contraceptive options.

Oral Sex and STIs

Can you get an STI from oral sex? In short, yes. Learn more about reducing your risk.

Contraceptive Choices

There are many options available for preventing pregnancy, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. If you are sexually active and don’t want to get pregnant, you can explore the range of contraceptive choices available.

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You can download our birth control method comparison chart and print out a copy to bring to your healthcare provider, so your provider can help you make the choice that’s best for you.

You can begin protecting your fertility well before you are ready to start a family. Nutrition, a healthy lifestyle and decisions about sexual behavior influence a person’s ability to conceive a child and a woman’s ability have a safe delivery. In the ideal situation… You will be able to:

  • Choose if and when you want to conceive a child
  • Biologically conceive a child
  • (For women) Deliver a healthy infant

Most people don’t realize that their reproductive health system is the most fragile system in the body. You need to know how to protect your future fertility. The decisions you make as a young person can affect your ability to have children later in life. By engaging in unprotected sex, you put yourself at risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). When STIs go untreated they can cause fertility problems, particularly in women.

What women need to know

Reproductive healthSTIs can have an impact on your ability to have children. When STIs go untreated they can cause fertility problems, particularly in women. For example:

Chlamydia and gonorrhea: Fifteen percent of all American women who are infertile can attribute it to tubal damage caused by pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID is an infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes and other reproductive organs. It often results from untreated STD/STIs, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea. PID can lead to serious consequences that affect a woman’s ability to have a baby, her experience during pregnancy and delivery, and the well being of her newborn.

Genital herpes: Herpes is not uncommon among women. It’s can be thought of as a skin infection of the mouth and/or genitals, and doesn’t usually have severe health consequences. The herpes virus stays in your body forever but doesn’t usually interfere with a woman’s ability to become pregnant. In rare circumstances, however, herpes infections can affect the well being of the newborn infant. For this reason women who are thinking about becoming pregnant or are already pregnant should talk with their doctors about protecting their baby.

HIV: It is recommended that all pregnant women get tested before their baby is born. While routine testing for all populations is important to prevent the spread of HIV, it is especially important for expectant mothers. HIV can be passed between a mother and child during labor, and later through breastfeeding. By testing in advance, women and their doctors can create plans to protect the well being of their unborn children. Through medical treatments during delivery and feeding practices thereafter, HIV positive pregnant women can have HIV negative children.

What you can do to protect yourself and your fertility:

  • Use condoms correctly and consistently every time you have sex.
  • Limit the number of sexual partners you have.
  • Get an annual physical where you request annual chlamydia and gonorrhea screenings (strongly recommended for women 25 and under).
  • Get tested and ask your sexual partners to get tested (before you start having sex!)
  • Recognize when you are in an abusive relationship and know who to call.

 

You can begin protecting your fertility well before you are ready to start a family. Nutrition, a healthy lifestyle and decisions about sexual behavior influence a person’s ability to conceive a child and a woman’s ability have a safe delivery. In the ideal situation… You will be able to:

  • Choose if and when you want to conceive a child
  • Biologically conceive a child
  • (For women) Deliver a healthy infant

Most people don’t realize that their reproductive health system is the most fragile system in the body. You need to know how to protect your future fertility. The decisions you make as a young person can affect your ability to have children later in life. By engaging in unprotected sex, you put yourself at risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). When STIs go untreated they can cause fertility problems, particularly in women.

What women need to know

Reproductive healthSTIs can have an impact on your ability to have children. When STIs go untreated they can cause fertility problems, particularly in women. For example:

Chlamydia and gonorrhea: Fifteen percent of all American women who are infertile can attribute it to tubal damage caused by pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID is an infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes and other reproductive organs. It often results from untreated STD/STIs, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea. PID can lead to serious consequences that affect a woman’s ability to have a baby, her experience during pregnancy and delivery, and the well being of her newborn.

Genital herpes: Herpes is not uncommon among women. It’s can be thought of as a skin infection of the mouth and/or genitals, and doesn’t usually have severe health consequences. The herpes virus stays in your body forever but doesn’t usually interfere with a woman’s ability to become pregnant. In rare circumstances, however, herpes infections can affect the well being of the newborn infant. For this reason women who are thinking about becoming pregnant or are already pregnant should talk with their doctors about protecting their baby.

HIV: It is recommended that all pregnant women get tested before their baby is born. While routine testing for all populations is important to prevent the spread of HIV, it is especially important for expectant mothers. HIV can be passed between a mother and child during labor, and later through breastfeeding. By testing in advance, women and their doctors can create plans to protect the well being of their unborn children. Through medical treatments during delivery and feeding practices thereafter, HIV positive pregnant women can have HIV negative children.

What you can do to protect yourself and your fertility:

  • Use condoms correctly and consistently every time you have sex.
  • Limit the number of sexual partners you have.
  • Get an annual physical where you request annual chlamydia and gonorrhea screenings (strongly recommended for women 25 and under).
  • Get tested and ask your sexual partners to get tested (before you start having sex!)
  • Recognize when you are in an abusive relationship and know who to call.

What men need to know

When STDs/STIs go undetected and untreated, they can have an impact on your fertility. For example:

Reproductive health for menChlamydia: For every 100,000 men, 190 will have chlamydia. While rare, infection sometimes spreads to the epididymis (the tube that carries sperm from the testis), causing pain, fever, and, rarely, sterility.

Gonorrhea: For every 100,000 men, 114 will have gonorrhea. Gonorrhea can cause sterility if left untreated.

HPV: HPV infection resulting in penile or anal cancers are rare, although gay and bisexual men are 17 times more likely to develop anal cancer than heterosexual men.

What you can do to protect yourself and your fertility:

  • Use condoms correctly and consistently every time you have sex.
  • Limit the number of sexual partners you have.
  • Get an annual physical.
  • Get tested and ask your sexual partners to get tested (before you start having sex)!
  • Recognize when you are in an abusive relationship and know who to call.

Contraceptive Choices

There are many options available for preventing pregnancy, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. If you are sexually active and don’t want to get pregnant, you can explore the range of contraceptive choices available. You can download our birth control method comparison chart and print out a copy to bring to your healthcare provider, so your provider can help you make the choice that’s best for you.

Do you have a question about reproductive health or pregnancy that you’d like to ask our experts? Email us and then check back to see if your question has been chosen. Please note that not all questions will be selected.

I’m a virgin and my boyfriend fingered me for the first time today. He washed his hands first but is afraid there was a tiny amount of sperm on his finger. Is there a chance I’m pregnant? Please help I’m worried sick.
[expand title=”Our expert says…”]We think the possibility of pregnancy is very, very small based on what you described. It is possible to get pregnant if your boyfriend ejaculates (“cums”) near the opening of your vagina, and this is one way that people get pregnant even when they’ve never had the kind of sex where the man’s penis is in the woman’s vagina.

It does sound as if you and your boyfriend are beginning to think about having sex together. If so, we wonder if you’ve talked to him about this, talked about what both of you want in your relationship, and talked about preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs)? It might also be a good time to do some thinking about how you feel about having sex, and to do some research about healthy sex, preventing pregnancy, and preventing STIs. It can even be helpful to talk to someone you trust, or even your doctor.

ASHA’s page on reducing your risk has more on how to prevent pregnancy and STIs, including how to talk about it with your partner.

Use the clinic locator to search for a free or low-cost clinic in your area where you can ask questions or get tested.

—Sexual Health Resource Center Staff[/expand]

I’m kind of worried: is it possible to break your hymen after you’ve already lost your virginity? I never bled the first time (or any other time) after that until the last time I had sex with my boyfriend. I know for a fact that it wasn’t my period, so what could have caused me to bleed?
[expand title=”Our expert says…”]Women can experience bleeding after sex for a number of reasons. Because some of those reasons include sexually transmitted infections or other medical problems, we suggest you visit your healthcare professional. It sounds like you are concerned about the bleeding. The most reassuring answer you can get will be to be seen in person. If you do not already see someone for gynecologic care, you can either make an appointment with a gynecologist’s office or look for a family planning clinic or Planned Parenthood clinic. There are also clinics for evaluating and treating STIs (sexually transmitted infections). The clinics generally have a sliding fee scale so that everyone can afford the care if they don’t have insurance.

If you’ve had unprotected sex, talk with your healthcare providers about STIs and recommended tests. For example, all sexually active women age 25 and under are recommended to have a chlamydia test once a year. We also strongly suggest using condoms even if you are on another method of contraception such as the pill; condoms help prevent STIs.

—The Sexual Health Resource Center Staff[/expand]