Tag Archives: Reproductive Health

What are fertility factors?


Infertility and problems with conceiving a child are more and more common in our society. Some scientists even talk of the epidemic of infertility among women and men. Although the situation may not be as serious for many couples some conditions are effectual obstacle to starting a family. How to detect and avoid infertility factors and if it is possible to completely rule them out are important questions for future parents.

Female and Male Fertility

There are fundamental differences between female and male fertility. Female egg cells are already formed at the beginning of woman’s life, during prenatal period. In an adult life woman’s ova develop from the large number of cells called primary oocytes situated in the ovary – about 2 million of primary oocytes are present at birth and none of them are created after birth. It contrasts with male continuous production of sperm cells during the whole period after puberty. The process of spermatogenesis takes place de novo – sperm cells form each time right before ejaculation. That is why age plays huge role in female reproduction processes and does not affect so much male reproductive capabilities. That fact also constitutes that age is one of the most important factor of female fertility that have ‘expiry date’ counted by released egg cells during each ovulation and ending around time of the beginning of menopause. The highest fertility is achieved at the age of twenty to twenty-fife. For various reasons, fewer women at this age give birth and this decision is postponed for later. After the age of thirty fertility already begins to decline up to the age of forty when there is only 5 percent chance of fertilization during one menstrual cycle. That is why age factor is of essence for female fertility while for men decrease of sperm cells’ quality is not so vital.

Also the terms of fertility are different among women and men. For men being fertile means to be capable of properly producing healthy sperm cells in sufficient quantities and release them while completing sexual intercourse. For women it is more complex – fertility denotes the ability to sexual intercourse, then to conceive a child, then to get pregnant (capability to induce embryo’s development in the fallopian tube and its implantation in the uterus), after that to carry out the pregnancy, to give birth and in the end to breast-feed a child. Additionally female fertility occurs repeatedly at certain moments of menstrual cycle while male fertility is constant.

Determinants of infertility

General differences between female and male fertility result in disparity of factors effecting it and causing its decrease. Some of the variables concern only women, however there are also certain determinants that apply more or less to both sexes. Among fertility factors there are for instance genetic predisposition – some genetic diseases and aberrations induce absolute lack of fertility, some others may cause some organic malfunctions that may cause partial or temporary infertility. Additionally children inherit parents’ capacities such as for example difficulties to conceive or other health problems like thyroid disorders, tendencies for obesity and other factors decreasing potential for reproduction. Also factors from the earliest development – from fetal life so for example medicaments and substances that our mother took, infections the mother went through effecting fetus’ features and among that future fertility or even wrong diet of the mother – on one hand eating too much unhealthy food that do not contain much nutrients, and on the other eating not enough food and being undernourished causing low child’s birth weight, may induce number of health problems in child’s adult life one of which is being infertile.

Especially for females, an important factor is body built – healthy weight, being generally fit and even thinner waistline help to maintain fertility on a high level. On the opposite – obesity and unhealthy lifestyle can cause severe damages to fertility and cause not only general problems but also difficulties to procreate due to causing hormonal abnormalities. However too much exercise and drastic weight loss may as well cause the decrease of the level of oestrogen and as a result lower fertility so it is important to maintain the state of balance in terms of weight level and amount of physical activities. Unbalanced diet can cause infertility, but there are  dietary substances harmless at a glance that lower oestrogen level which are for instance coffee, tea (caffeine products) and soy containing phytoestrogens that replace actual hormones. For both sexes drinking alcohol, smoking, being overweight and suffering from sleep deprivation cause hormonal problems and as a result lower chances for conception.

Among the diseases that induce infertility most important are direct reproductive organs illnesses or anatomic abnormalities, insufficiency or poor quality of gametes as well as hormones shortages. Other main infertility factors are thyroid problems (mainly hypothyroidism), diabetes and other metabolic diseases, untreated gluten intolerance, immune system disorders, hyperprolactinemia which is an excessively elevated level of prolactin and infections that are systemic or effect directly female and male gonads.

Many infertility factors are possible to eliminate. Factors, such as obesity, wrong diet, stimulants and bad habits, sleep deficiency or unhealthy lifestyle are what can be altered and improved in order to obtain high level of fertility. If those are the only problems that the couple need to face, simple guidance of doctor dealing with fertility issues will be enough. The situation is more complex if there are other infertility factors diagnosed – then the proper attendance of infertility treatment facilities’ specialists may be indispensable not only for reproductive reasons but also for general health condition. Then it is recommended to look for necessary help at fertility clinics in home country or abroad. Good option for those who take into consideration infertility treatment in other country are INVICTA Fertility Clinics specialising in the comprehensive diagnosis and treatment of infertility that can pride themselves in success rate exceeding European and UK standards (more: click).

UN CEDAW Committee Finds the Philippine Government Accountable for Grave and Systematic Violations of Women’s Rights under CEDAW

CEDAW to Review the Philippines for its Compliance of CEDAW in July 2016 (In Re Manila EO 003 Series of 2000 and EO 030 Series of 2011)

Quezon City, May 3, 2015 – “The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women released its findings on its inquiry on Manila EO 003 and E0 030 finding the Philippines accountable for grave and systematic violations of women’s rights under the CEDAW Convention,” said Atty. Clara Rita Padilla, Executive Director of EnGendeRights.

“This is historic. This is only the second inquiry conducted under Article 8 of the Optional Protocol to CEDAW and the first on sexual and reproductive health and rights. The impact of such finding will not only be in the Philippines but in other countries as well where there are similar violations of women’s rights. With the release of the findings, we hope that the Philippine government will comply with its international treaty obligations to ensure that the women and girls in Manila City and throughout the Philippines are not discriminated against in accessing sexual and reproductive health services,” added Atty. Padilla.

Atty. Padilla continued that, “The release of the summary findings is very timely because the CEDAW Committee will review the compliance or non-compliance of the Philippine government with its obligations under CEDAW in July 2016 during its periodic review. The recommendations of the CEDAW Committee in relation to the inquiry would surely be tackled during such periodic review.”

EnGendeRights and WomenLEAD, as co-convenors of the Philippine-based Task Force CEDAW Inquiry (Task Force CEDAW Inquiry),[1] together with the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights[2] and Malaysia-based International Women’s Rights Action Watch-Asia Pacific (IWRAW-AP)[3] submitted the request for inquiry to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee) [4] in 2008 to investigate the impact on the health and lives of women resulting from Manila City Executive Order 003 Series of 2000 (EO 003). EO 003, issued on February 29, 2000, declared Manila City as a “pro-life city” and discouraged the use of modern contraceptives.

The joint submission and the rest of the submissions submitted until 2012 to the CEDAW Committee, six submissions altogether, were co-drafted by the Task Force CEDAW Inquiry (composed of twenty member NGOs with EnGendeRights and WomenLEAD as co-convenors), the Center for Reproductive Rights, and IWRAW-AP. The subsequent submissions documented the continuing impact of the EOs on women, the delay in the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill which was not yet passed into law at that time, the enactment of Manila EO 030 Series 2011 (EO 030),[5] among others.

CEDAW experts, Pramila Patten and Violeta Neubauer, conducted the investigation in the Philippines in November 2012.[6]

In the findings, the CEDAW Committee observed that, while the 1987 Philippine Constitution guarantees separation of the Church and the State, the Church has considerable influence on public policy where religion has been relied on as a basis for sexual and reproductive health policies, including at the level of local government units.

The CEDAW Committee found the Philippines accountable for the violations of rights of women and girls as the State party “failed to address the effects of the implementation of EO 003 and EO 030 and, between 2004 and 2010, has at times either supported or condoned the policies of the City of Manila” lasting for more than 12 years, during the successive terms of two different mayors of Manila City.

The CEDAW Committee found violations under CEDAW given the “tacit acceptance by the central Government of the policies issued by the Manila local government and its failure to take any action against the local public authorities, as of February 2004” with the national government taking “insufficient and inadequate measures to address the flaws of the Manila health system”; “the implementation of EO 003 and 030 over many years compelled women to have more children than they wanted or than their health permitted them to have” with “the impact of EO 003 compounded by the funding ban contained in EO 030”; “the failure of the State party to provide the full range of sexual and reproductive health services, commodities and information resulted in unplanned pregnancies, unsafe abortions and unnecessary and preventable maternal deaths” particularly harming disadvantaged groups of women, including poor women and adolescent girls, as well as women in abusive relationships.

The Committee stressed that the denial of access to full range of methods of contraception had severe consequences not only for the lives and health of many women, but also impacted their other rights in CEDAW such as employment and education by “limiting women’s rights to freely choose the number and spacing of their children, women and girls were effectively undermined in accessing and pursuing the same education and employment opportunities as men, and thereby driven further into… poverty.”

The CEDAW Committee recommended the following for the Philippine government:

  • make modern contraceptives including emergency contraceptives accessible;
  • remove all barriers that result in unequal access to sexual and reproductive health services including limitations pertaining to women’s marital status, age, and number of children;
  • establish health care protocols to prevent and sanction discrimination against women;
  • guarantee separation of the Church and the State to protect women’s sexual and reproductive health rights through sensitizing members of parliament and national and local government officials to eliminate all ideological barriers limiting women’s access to sexual reproductive health services, commodities and information;
  • provide access to quality post abortion care to women including by reintroducing misoprostol to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity rates and ensure that women experiencing abortion-related complications are not reported to law enforcement authorities and are not threatened with arrest;
  • amend articles 256 to 259 of the Revised Penal Code to “legalize abortion in cases of rape, incest, threats to the life and/or health of the mother, or serious malformation of the foetus and decriminalize all other cases where women undergo abortion.”

“Implementing the recommendations of the CEDAW Committee are concrete steps towards the Philippine government’s compliance with its obligations under CEDAW and towards ensuring women’s enjoyment of their rights under the Convention,” Atty. Padilla concluded.

There has only been one other inquiry conducted since the entry into force of the Optional Protocol to CEDAW in December 2000 where the CEDAW Committee issued its report on the systematic rape and murder of women in and around Ciudad Juarez in Mexico 2005.[7]***

Contact Person:

Atty. Clara Rita “Claire” A. Padilla
Executive Director
EnGendeRights, Inc.
Mobile: (+63)918-2182682
Email: engenderights@gmail.com;
Blog: http://clararitapadilla.blogspot.com
Like us: https://www.facebook.com/engenderightsphilippines
Twitter: @Clara Rita Padilla


Ano nga ba ang RH?

Something worth sharing about Reproductive Health. This is a comic strip printed at the back of an old t-shirt. The same shirt was given to some members of the press a long time ago during a program that supported and or discussed issues about RH. The comic strip is written in the vernacular and can be easily understood by Tagalog-speaking individuals.

Ano nga ba ang RH? Paki basa nito.

(Click image to enlarge)