Barriers and facilitators to self-care practices for sexual and reproductive health among women of reproductive age

Amit Timilsina, Buna Bhandari, Alexandra Johns, Subash Thapa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


INTRODUCTION: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) have been promoted globally, yet sexual and reproductive health (SRH) interventions are seldom evaluated from the perspective of service users and service providers. Very little is known about whether and why various target groups including general women are (or are not) practicing SRH -related self-care practices. This study explored SRH self-care practices and facilitators and barriers to the adoption of SRH self-care among reproductive-age women of Nepal.

METHODS: In this descriptive qualitative study, we conducted in-depth interviews in June 2022 with ten married women of reproductive age (service users) and four SRHR service providers (program managers and health service providers) in Nepal. Thematic analysis was conducted for data analysis.

RESULTS: We found that commonly practiced self-care practices were self-administration of contraceptives, self-management of pain, self-monitoring of pregnancy, self-awareness and seeking medical abortions (tele-abortion), self-medication for pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV, and self-testing for HIV and pregnancy. The multi-level barriers to SRH self-care were poor knowledge and perceived lack of need for SRH self-care, limited access, and negative behaviors from the service providers. The program-related barriers included lack of evidence, limited financial resources, lack of accountability, and limited knowledge and skills among service providers on SRH self-care measures. Peer support, an increasing number of service sites, and access to and use of digital (health) tools emerged as the facilitators of SRH self-care.

CONCLUSIONS: The findings of this study suggest that addressing barriers such as poor knowledge, limited access, and negative attitudes while leveraging facilitators such as peer support and digital tools is essential for promoting and enabling effective SRH self-care among women. Population-wide awareness programs supplemented by increasing service sites are essential for increasing SRH self-care practices.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0303958
Pages (from-to)e0303958
JournalPLoS One
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 22 May 2024


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