Shedding a Light on Reproductive Health Care for Latina Women and Girls//Josefina Sierra

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Latina women and girls face a major obstacle when it comes to reproductive health care. Reproductive and sexual health care goes beyond basic sexual education and information regarding pregnancy. While these categories are still important, even bigger issues exist when women experience obstacles in receiving reproductive health care such as mammograms, treatment for sexually transmitted disease, and pap testing. It is crucial to provide comprehensive reproductive health care for Latina women regardless of age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity because it has the potential to save lives and end the stigma women face regarding reproductive health care.

A variety of factors impacts Latina’s access and knowledge of reproductive health care; some factors are level of education and stigma. Latina women who report higher levels of education are associated with higher levels of self-breast examination and an increased knowledge about cervical cancer and STIs (Rojas-Guyler, Price, Young, & King, 2010). Young Latina women also tend to experience shame towards the use of reproductive health care due to parental approval. This often plays a significant role in their sexual and reproductive health seeking behaviors (Caal, Guzman, Berger, Ramos, & Golub, 2013). Young Latina women may be largely influenced by their parent’s disapproval towards the use of reproductive health care due to cultural beliefs. As one participant stated “Because you’re on birth control, it automatically makes you promiscuous or something (p. 620).” This type of belief leads young Latina women to hide contraception from parents or provide false contact information at clinics (Caal et al., 2013). Therefore, it is important for health care providers to be aware of these issues in order to provide culturally-sensitive care and treatment to Latina patients. In addition, it is critical to address these issues politically and demand that our current administration pass legislation that reflects the needs of women as we fight for health care reform.

It is important to be aware of these issues in order to be well-informed of the many layers impacting Latina women’s access to reproductive health care. While researchers have uncovered valuable information about the experiences of Latina women’s experience with reproductive health care, more research and legislation must be passed in order to become better advocates for sexual minority Latina women, transgender non-conforming Latina women, undocumented Latina women, and Latina women of all ages. It is important to use our voices to demand inclusive legislation that reflects the needs of women living in the U.S. as well as advocate for marginalized groups of women in our own communities.
Written by Josefina Sierra

Caal, S., Guzman, L., Berger, A., Ramos, M., & Golub, E. (2013). “Because you’re on birth control, it automatically makes you a promiscuous or something”: Latina women’s perceptions of parental approval to use reproductive health care. Journal of Adolescent Health Care, 53, 617-622. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.05.003.

Rojas-Guyler, L., Price, K. L. J., Young, K., & King, K. A. (2010). Knowledge and perceptions of reproductive health among Latinas. Health Educator, 42(1), 27-34.