Preventing sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy, and safeguarding fertility: triple protection needs of young women

Reprod Health Matters. 2003 Nov;11(22):134-41. doi: 10.1016/s0968-8080(03)02289-4.


The problems and risks of unprotected sex, unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections are inextricably linked. In this context, the critical yet overlooked problem of infertility also needs to be addressed. Dual protection means concurrent protection against unintended pregnancy and STI/HIV. This paper argues for a more comprehensive notion of "triple protection" to include the safeguarding of fertility. This is intended explicitly to draw out the connection between infertility and STIs--using the "visibility" of fertility and infertility and people's immediate connection with them--and in so doing to bolster STI prevention and control efforts. It could also serve to highlight the connections between infertility and unsafe abortion and delivery practices, which still exist in many developing countries. Understanding differences in perception and weighting of protection concerns by young women and men, whether they wish to start, postpone or avoid pregnancy, is essential for the creation of effective programmes. Building on efforts to promote dual protection, a strategic opportunity exists to include prevention of infertility into safer sex messages and to address the fragmentation of reproductive health and HIV/AIDS programmes.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health
  • Communicable Disease Control / methods
  • Condoms / statistics & numerical data
  • Contraception Behavior
  • Contraceptive Agents, Female / therapeutic use
  • Developing Countries
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / complications
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • Health Education
  • Humans
  • Infertility / etiology
  • Infertility / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Viral / complications
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Viral / prevention & control*


  • Contraceptive Agents, Female