Reproductive health is the state of a person’s fitness to reproduce. It is a combination of physical, emotional, and sexual wellbeing that allows you to give and receive pleasure in sexual activity and leads to the creation and sustenance of new life. Every person is born with the inherent potential to reproduce, but sometimes this potential is not activated until later in life. This can be due to a number of factors, including a person’s physical health, mental health, or even lifestyle. For instance, people who are not active have a lower reproductive health than those who lead an active lifestyle. Age is another factor that can affect reproductive health because as you get older your body becomes less capable of reproducing. This blog post will outline some of the most essential concepts you need to know if you want to have a good understanding of reproductive health.
Your reproductive system is made up of your gonads (your sex organs), your uterus (the place where you carry your baby), and your vagina (the passage that leads to your womb). Together, these organs create and nurture new life. You can think of your reproductive system as a factory that turns biological gears (i.e. sperm and egg cells) into babies. One of the most essential organs to have in good working order is your reproductive system. However, because it is a very complex subject, we will discuss several other systems in relation to reproductive health first.
Your immune system protects you from diseases and injuries that could potentially affect your reproductive health. It does this by identifying foreign invaders (e.g. bacteria, viruses, and fungi) and destroying them before they can do any significant damage. In general, your immune system functions pretty well and does its job in protecting you from diseases that could potentially lead to infertility. However, there are some circumstances under which your immunity could be severely affected. For example, if you have a recent infection (e.g. a cold or the flu), you will be at risk of suffering from infertility due to reduced mobility of certain immune cells (e.g. neutrophils and macrophages). Similarly, if you have a history of cancer, you will be at risk of developing infertility due to radiation therapy or chemotherapy. In these situations, it is extremely important to restore your immunity as soon as possible to allow you to have good reproductive health (e.g. see here for more information on how to do this).
There are several hormones that control various aspects of your reproductive health. For example, estrogen is responsible for creating feminine qualities like soft skin and a smoother hair surface. When estrogen levels are low, you can experience rough skin, poor circulation, hot flashes, and even premature aging. Testosterone is the male hormone that is responsible for creating the sex drive, muscle mass, and masculine characteristics like deep voices and thick hair. When testosterone levels are high, you can experience increased aggressiveness, weight gain, and even prostate problems. Progesterone is a hormone that is produced by the adrenal glands and the hypothalamus (a part of your brain) and is responsible for preparing your uterus for pregnancy. Progesterone levels increase just before you get your period and then drop abruptly after you give birth. When progesterone levels are low, you can experience a variety of problems that include reduced libido, irregular menstrual cycles, and infertility. These hormones control many aspects of your reproductive health, so it is important to understand how they work together in creating your unique balance of fitness.
Just as there are various hormones that control various aspects of your reproductive health, there are also various physical problems that can affect your reproductive system and its functions. For example, endometriosis is an issue that affects women and can cause infertility. It is a chronic disease in which tissue that is typically found in the lining of your uterus (i.e. the endometrium) spreads outside of the uterus and even into other areas of your body. In some cases, this tissue can cause painful periods, heavy blood loss, and even infertility. Other problems like PCOS affect both men and women and can cause infertility by disrupting the functioning of your ovaries (i.e. your reproductive organs). People with PCOS have higher androgens (e.g. testosterone) than normal which leads to excessive hair growth on the arms, legs, and face as well as acne and other types of skin problems. It is also worth mentioning that diabetes can affect your ability to have children because it can cause damage to the reproductive system. This disease affects the way your body processes sugar which can lead to several complications including sexual dysfunction. It is also a cause of erectile dysfunction in men. Your general health here refers to how you feel overall and whether or not you are able to have children. Factors like your weight and body mass index (BMI) can also influence your reproductive health. For example, people who are underweight have low testosterone and this can lead to infertility. Being overweight or obese can have the opposite effect- it can increase your testosterone levels which in turn can lead to increased libido and fertilization rates. However, there is no clear evidence that shows obesity causes infertility directly. Your weight (in general) and your BMI (in particular) can be used to assess your overall health and predict your reproductive health. For example, if you have a high BMI and poor overall health, you can expect to have problems with your fertility.
Your mental health plays an important role in your reproductive health. Anxiety and depression are the most common mental illnesses that can lead to infertility. If you struggle with anxiety or depression, these problems can put a serious damper on your chances of having children. In some cases, men with depression or anxiety disorders even experience reduced sperm production. It is also important to note that certain medications can cause infertility by altering the way your body processes hormones. For example, many psychotropic medications (e.g. antidepressants, antipsychotics, and anticonvulsants) can cause low sperm counts and motility by altering the way your body processes testosterone. Taking these kinds of medications can also increase your risk of experiencing ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) which is a more severe form of ovarian hyperresponse (i.e. your body’s reaction to pregnancy). OHSS is a dangerous condition that occurs when your body’s hormones overwhelm its reproductive system, causing it to overreact. In this situation, your ovaries will begin to produce massive numbers of eggs, causing you to suffer from severe pain, bloating, and even risk of infection. If you are taking psychiatric drugs and experience any of these symptoms, you should consult your physician to determine the root cause of your condition.
Your sexuality plays an important role in your reproductive health. The frequency and intensity of your sexual activity can influence your sperm production and motility which in turn can affect your fertility. In general, if you have a healthy sexuality you can expect to have healthy reproductive health. There are several factors that can influence your sexual function. For example, aging can be a significant factor, especially if it is of a degenerative nature. Hormonal changes that occur as you get older can also affect your sexual health in an adverse manner. This is why it is so important to maintain healthy hormone levels as you get older. Men who have been through puberty, have a better understanding of female sexuality than their more “naïve” counterparts and can be excellent sources of advice on how to improve your sexual function. Getting overly drunk or using drugs and/or alcohol can also affect your sexual health and functionality. These substances can cause you to lose control and engage in harmful or risky sexual activity. In a similar vein, certain illnesses and injuries can also affect your sexual function. If you have AIDS or another HIV-related illness, your sexual health will be seriously impacted because you will lose the ability to reproduce to prevent the spread of the virus. Similarly, men who have undergone chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer are at risk of experiencing infertility and sexual dysfunction. In these situations, it is extremely important to restore your sexual function as soon as possible to allow you to lead a normal, sexually- satisfying life (e.g. see here for more information on how to do this).
To recap, your reproductive system is a very complex subject that is made up of several interacting parts. One of the most essential parts is your reproductive system. There are numerous hormones and other substances that control various aspects of your reproductive health, so it is imperative to understand how all of these parts work together in order to maintain optimum health. If you want to have a healthy, vibrant, and sustainable sexual life, it is important to pay attention to your mental and physical health rather than focusing on the mere components that help you reproduce. This holistic view will help you maintain healthy levels of testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone so that you can continue to experience pleasurable, fulfilling sex and have the opportunity to create and sustain new life with your partner. Good luck out there.