Understanding the user, the health system, and the environment is key to ensuring that self care interventions for sexual and reproductive health are not only available but safe and empowering for all, say Laura Ferguson and colleagues.
Evolving technologies are increasing the availability of interventions for sexual and reproductive health that are traditionally offered only in health facilities. Self care interventions for sexual and reproductive health are diverse and include self injection (eg, of contraceptives), self screening or testing (eg, for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and pregnancy), self medication (eg, for abortion and HIV), and self monitoring (eg, of fertility).
Self care interventions are already in use around the globe and are expanding rapidly with minimal regulation or guidance. Although they can improve access for hard-to-reach populations and reduce the burden on overstretched health services, the potential for misuse and possible harms for users must be considered. The benefits, risks, rights, and health concerns will vary by self care intervention, health system, legal context, and characteristics of the user. When appropriate safeguards are in place, self care interventions can contribute to improving rights and health; when information, support, and quality control are lacking, the reverse may occur.— Human rights and legal dimensions of self care interventions for sexual and reproductive health, BMJ.
Read more of BMJ’s special supplement on SRHR self care interventions.