Reproductive Health Month

Feb 16, 2024 | Articles

In Recognition of World AIDS Day, Med Pak Interviews Sister Sthokozile Zulu From Ikhwezi Morning Star Clinic (Umlazi)

Q: What is reproductive health?

A: Reproductive health is a complete physical (referring to both male and female reproductive organs and hormones), mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease.

Q: What symptoms should your patient look out for if they are concerned about their reproductive health?

A: For Females: absence of menses, abnormal vaginal bleeding , severe lower abdominal pains,vaginal odour, any vaginal discharge that is not clear or white, vaginal sore , itchiness , warts and abnormalities that have been noticed recently. Signs of infertility for clients who have been trying to conceive for over a year .

For Males: Any penile sores, warts, itchiness of urethra , urethral discharge, erectile dysfunction, lower abdominal pains, swollen and/or painful scrotum. Signs of infertility with attempts to impregnate for over a year, provided the partner is not on any contraceptives.

Q: What important questions should a nurse ask a patient about their reproductive health?

A: • It is important to ask every client presenting at the facility for what ever condition  if they have noticed any changes or abnormalities 

• Their last normal period (consistency , colour, odour , type of flow, level of pain during periods)
• Infertility issues 
• If they are on any contraceptives and how their current contraceptive is treating them.
• If they have any concern regarding their reproductive health

Q: What STI’s should a female patient be screened for? And how often should they get tested?

A: There are a vast number of STIs (e.g.: Chlamydia, Ghonorrhea, Herpes, syphillis etc)that can present with signs and symptoms or not. History taking is done on every visit , an STI profile (bloods) can be done if client does not respond to treatment based on symptoms. However the current EDL guidelines cover most STIs based on presenting symptoms and the clinicians findings on physical examination. The frequency of (blood) screening will depend on individuals sex behaviour, usage of protection and number of sexual partners.

Q: What are the different types of birth control? And how do you know which type to give each patient?

A: Some of the reproductive methods that we have available include Short term: pills, injections (Nuristerate and Mytricon), and patches. Long term include: Intra uterine devices, Implant, tubal ligation and vasectomy.

Some of the things that we look for before suggesting the most suitable methods are:
Current ailment, history of undiagnosed abnormal bleeding, clients habits including eg smoking and drinking. Other chronic medications (some chronic medication can reduce the efficacy) effectiveness of contraceptives. Timing of future planned pregnancy, history of other methods the client has been and if there were any side effects on the methods.
Also Correct any myths the clients may have on specific contraceptives.