Editorials

Reproductive and sexual health of older women in developing countries

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.327.7406.64 (Published 10 July 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:64
  1. Christopher Elias (celias@path.org), president,
  2. Jacqueline Sherris, strategic program leader, reproductive health
  1. Program for Appropriate Technology in Health, 1455 NW Leary Way, Seattle, WA 98107, USA

    Women and their healthcare providers face unique needs and challenges

    More than 20% of the burden of disease among women of reproductive age is connected with sex and reproduction.1 In the developing worldwhere a woman's lifetime risk of death from maternal causes is 33 times that of her counterparts in developed countries2many women face risks associated with pregnancy and childbirth, unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and HIV/AIDS. An estimated 105 million married women in the developing world face an unmet need for contraception.3

    Despite the clear need to focus resources on women of reproductive age the global health community also needs to ensure that the health needs of older women, including their reproductive and sexual health needs, are addressed. Well over half of women over age 60 live in developing countries.4 As they age women face both physical and cultural barriers to optimal health.5 Studies in developing countries have found that women experience gynaecological problems throughout their reproductive years and beyond, in part due to the limited medical care they receive during labour and delivery, combined with high parity.6 As they move towards menopause and beyond they are at risk from symptoms associated …

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