Sexual and reproductive health

Increasing transparency of abortion laws and policies: launch of a new online database

23 June 2017: WHO and the Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs have launched a new, open-access database of laws, policies and health standards on abortion in countries worldwide. The database aims to promote greater transparency of abortion laws and policies, as well as to improve countries’ accountability for the protection of women and girls’ health and human rights.

Can women who are at high risk of acquiring HIV, safely use hormonal contraception?

Health worker provides counselling on contraceptive methods to a couple, Papua New Guinea
WHO/Yoshi Shimizu
Health worker provides counselling on contraceptive methods to a couple, Papua New Guinea

2 March 2017: Since 1991, there has been mixed evidence as to whether using hormonal contraceptive methods increases a woman’s risk of acquiring HIV. To answer this question the World Health Organization (WHO) has continuously monitored the available evidence. In 2016, WHO commissioned an update of a 2014 systematic review of evidence to include new studies.

The updated evidence was examined in December 2016 at a consultation that included a wide range of stakeholders including global representation from clinicians with expertise in contraception and HIV, as well as representatives from affected populations, researchers and academics, epidemiologists, programme managers, policy-makers and guideline methodologists.

Women at the centre: WHO issues new guidance on the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women living with HIV

WHO/SEARO/Gary Hampton

21 February 2017: A woman-centred approach to healthcare is one that consciously adopts the perspectives of women, their families and communities. This means that health services see women as active participants in, as well as beneficiaries of, trusted health systems that respond to women’s needs, rights and preferences in humane and holistic ways. Such an approach to healthcare is crucial when working to safeguard the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women living with HIV. In 2015, there were an estimated 17.8 million women aged 15 and older living with HIV in 2015, constituting 51 percent of all adults living with HIV.

A Network to halve maternal and newborn deaths in facilities in 5 years

Elizabeth Wezena with babies in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit of the Bolgatanga Regional Hospital in the Upper East region of Ghana.

13 February 2017: Many women, their babies and children still die, or suffer from life-long disabilities, even after reaching a health facility, due to poor care practices. Improving the quality of care provided is of utmost urgency. With a target of halving maternal and newborn deaths in facilities in 5 years, national governments from 9 first wave countries and partners are joining forces to establish a Network to improve the quality of care provided to mothers, newborns and children. The Network will support countries to achieve their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and achieve the vision set out by the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health.

High-quality healthcare needed for girls and women who have experienced female genital mutilation

6 February 2017: WHO joins individuals and organizations worldwide in marking the International day of zero tolerance for female genital mutilation (FGM). Over 200 million girls and women living worldwide have experienced this harmful practice, and this important event aims to raise awareness of this global problem. On this occasion, a special supplement has been published in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics (IJGO). The co-authors note that while work to prevent FGM is of key importance, there is an urgent need to reach and support women and girls who have experienced FGM with high-quality healthcare.

WHO publishes new multinational fetal growth charts

A doctor performs ultrasound at a Hospital, Tigray region, Ethiopia

24 January 2017: A new study, published today by PLOS Medicine, shows that there is significant variation in fetal growth between countries. The study also found that fetal growth was to some extent influenced by maternal age, height, weight, parity and by fetal sex. A significant variation in birth weight was also observed between countries. The article which is open access also provides new WHO charts for estimating fetal growth and should be particularly useful for countries who may not have resources to develop their own charts.

Research on sexual and reproductive health throughout the world

Reproductive Health Library (RHL)

RHL takes the best available evidence on sexual and reproductive health from Cochrane systematic reviews and presents it as practical actions for clinicians (and policy-makers) to improve health outcomes, especially in developing countries.


Women in the context of microcephaly and Zika virus disease

The risk of babies born with microcephaly has raised understandable concerns among women including those who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. There are many unknowns regarding the possible causes of microcephaly.

HRP mourns the passing of Dr Babatunde Osotimehin

The UNDP/UNFPA/WHO/UNICEF/WHO/World Bank Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction (HRP) is profoundly saddened by the passing of Dr Babatunde Osotimehin. We offer our sincere condolences to Dr Osotimehin’s family, and to the entire staff of UNFPA.

In the changing landscape of sexual and reproductive health and rights, research and evidence needs to be heard

Statement delivered on behalf of the World Health Organization to the UN 50th Commission on Population and Development

The promotion, protection and fulfilment of sexual and reproductive health and rights

front page of statement

Statement by the HRP Scientific Technical and Advisory Group and the Gender and rights Advisory Panel

Partnerships and initiatives

African woman with her two children.

VIDEO: Addressing violence against women: the health sector response

Search WHO guidelines on sexual and reproductive health

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