You are here

Sexual and reproductive health

A healthy and fulfilling sexual and reproductive life

Sexual and reproductive health is a right of men and women, and a central aspect of their lives that has a great impact on their development at all ages. In Peru, many women, youth and adolescents still do not have all the facilities to access information and services that allow them to exercise this right.

The ability to decide and take action to protect their health, as well as to plan their future and that of their family, is seriously affected by regulatory, territorial and cultural barriers. This can lead to unintended teenage pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, and even deaths during pregnancy or childbirth that could be prevented.

Our Challenge

Strengthening policies and programs to improve access to integrated sexual and reproductive health services—adopting human rights and gender-based, culturally sensitive approaches—is essential to ensure this right.

Related Strategic Result of the IX Country Program of UNFPA and the Peruvian State: Improves access to culturally sensitive sexual and reproductive health services for adolescents and women, even in humanitarian crisis situations.

Maternal Health

One Peruvian woman dies every day from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth that could be prevented. This is due to limited access to sexual and reproductive health.

According to United Nations estimates, the maternal mortality ratio decreased 73% between 1990 and 2015, going from 251 to 68 deaths of women during pregnancy or childbirth for every 100,000 births.

The number of births attended by qualified health personnel nationwide increased from 59% in 2000 to 93% in 2015. In rural areas the increase was even more pronounced: from 64% to 75%. However, home births in rural areas are still high (23%), especially in the Amazon.

Family planning and contraceptive methods:

Family planning allows people to make informed decisions about how many children to have and at what point in their lives, thus helping them to plan for their future. Access to safe and voluntary family planning is a human right. It is essential for gender equality and a key factor in reducing poverty.

The use of modern contraceptive methods has proven to be one of the most cost-effective interventions to prevent maternal deaths and abortions, as well as unintended and high-risk pregnancies. However, Peru is one of the Latin American countries with the lowest levels of use among women with a partner (ECLAC 2017).

More than half of the births that occur in the country are unplanned births whose mothers would have preferred to postpone or avoid them. In adolescents (between 15 and 19 years of age) this occurs in more than 60% of births, with an upward trend in the last 25 years.

Unplanned pregnancies are a more widespread reality among women in poverty, rural areas, the Amazon, and indigenous women. Around half of the Peruvian women with partners use modern contraceptive methods (53%) and 6 of every 10 among unmarried and sexually active women (64%). Its use is even lower among women with lower economic income (bottom quintile: 46%) and among those who did not complete primary education (37%) (INEI 2016).

Comprehensive sexual education:

A quality education that prepares children and adolescents for life is a necessary condition to eliminate poverty, reduce inequalities and achieve greater social inclusion. This requires integrating the learning of competencies and skills that allow students to make responsible decisions regarding their sexuality, so that they can prevent situations that put their future at risk, such as diseases, violence and early pregnancy.
9 out of 10 people of legal age, and a similar proportion of students, want comprehensive sexuality education to be provided in Peruvian schools (UNFPA and UNESCO 2016). Faced with this need, progress has been uneven and in many schools these issues are still not addressed. However, the new National Curriculum, approved in 2016, includes among the 11 learnings that each schoolchild must develop by the end of their school education those related to comprehensive sexual education.

The Opportunity

Guaranteeing the right of every woman, adolescent and young person to access information and means to take care of their sexual and reproductive health, plan their family and prevent an unplanned pregnancy has a positive impact on their personal fulfillment, on the well-being of their family and on the progress of their communities and the country.

Our Strategy

We support the State's efforts to achieve universal access to family planning, healthy motherhood practices, comprehensive sexual education, prevention of sexually transmitted infections, prevention and care of sexual violence, and the dissemination and defense of reproductive rights, responding to the specific needs of each culture and age group.