Sexual and Reproductive Health

Part of: Women's Health

Taking care of your sexual and reproductive health

A recent study on female sexuality in Singapore revealed that nearly 60% of Singapore women experienced low sexual function. This makes them less likely to try to conceive and may affect their chances of getting pregnant.

That's why it's important to have an honest and open discussion about sex and reproductive health with your doctor. No matter which stage of life you are at, an intimate knowledge of your body and a healthy understanding of your own sexual needs can contribute to your emotional and physical well-being.

What is sexual and reproductive health for women?

As defined by the World Health Organisation, sexual health refers to the state of physical, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality. Reproductive health refers to the reproductive processes, functions and system at all stages of your life.

As a woman, taking care of both your sexual health and reproductive health means:

  • Having a good understanding of your menstrual cycle
  • Being comfortable with your own sexual needs
  • Making better choices about family planning and starting a family
  • Protecting yourself and your partner from disease

Did you know? Female sexual dysfunction is a significant health problem worldwide, with more than 40% of women of reproductive age affected by it.

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A woman's period (menstrual cycle) is regulated by hormones and is a natural process whereby the body prepares for pregnancy. Keeping track of your menstrual cycle can help you identify the right time for conception. The end of the last menstrual period is known as menopause.

Menstruation is an important part of being healthy. Talk to your gynaecologist if you experience

To achieve sexual wellness, every woman needs to embrace her own sexuality as a vital part of her emotional and physical health.

Many factors that can affect your sexual libido, such as stress, illness, aging, common conditions that cause sexual dysfunction, as well as the influence from career, family and social commitments.

Treatments for female sexual dysfunction

Depending on the causes and symptoms, there are different treatments and therapies available for female sexual dysfunction. See your doctor about your symptoms to rule out any underlying medical issues.

Treatments for female sexual dysfunction may include:

  • Open communication with your partner to improve intimacy
  • Healthy lifestyle habits, such as regular exercise and a healthy diet
  • Limiting your alcohol intake as drinking too much alcohol can lower your sexual response
  • Seeing a counsellor or therapist who specialises in sexual and relationship issues
  • Hormone therapy, such as estrogen or androgen therapy
  • Medications to raise a low libido (sex drive)

There are many forms of contraceptives that are available for effective birth control. Common contraceptive methods include:

  • Natural family planning
  • Female condom
  • Male condom
  • Vaginal ring
  • Contraceptive patch
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Injectables
  • Intrauterine device

Talk to a gynaecologist to find out the method which best suits your needs.

Getting pregnant

Start planning your parenthood journey early if you and your partner intend to have children. As a woman's fertility declines with age, early planning will allow you to deal with any unexpected fertility issues sooner than later.

Dealing with fertility issues

Fertility problems may arise due to problems in the female or the male reproductive system. It is advisable to seek medical help if:

  • You and your partner are unable to conceive after 1 year of regular, unprotected sexual intercourse
  • The woman is above the age of 35 and after 6 months of trying

Fertility treatment can include assisted reproductive technology (ART) such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).

Sexually transmitted infections and diseases (STIs and STDs) can be transmitted through vaginal, anal or oral contact during intercourse. Some examples are syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and trichomoniasis.

See a gynaecologist if you have symptoms of an STD, such as:

  • Vaginal itching
  • Rashes
  • Unusual discharge
  • Pain

Proper protection during sexual activity can help prevent the transmission of STIs. Left untreated, STIs can lead to fertility problems and an increased risk of cervical cancer.

There are steps you can take to prevent cervical cancer, including:

  • Regular screening such as Pap smears
  • Getting the HPV vaccine, which can help to provide protection against certain strains or types of human papillomavirus (HPV), mainly the ones that are most commonly linked to cervical cancer
This page has been reviewed by our medical content reviewers.