Sexual and Reproductive Health

Infographic of publicly supported family planning visits in 2021 - click to open

What we do

The Department of Health's Sexual and Reproductive Health Program collaborates with other organizations and state agencies to increase access and decrease barriers to sexual and reproductive health information and services.

Our goal is to increase the ability of people of all genders to achieve their optimal sexual and reproductive health. We support screening and preventive services, best practices for client-centered care, and community outreach. We help people achieve their desired number of children, including no children, and determine the timing and spacing of pregnancies.

We do this by providing funding for direct services, facilitating coordination between stakeholders, collaborating with other state agencies, and working toward state policies that are equitable and inclusive.

Provide sexual and reproductive health services to all who want and need them

We use state funding to support 87 clinics that offer direct clinical services and education to help people choose if and when to have children and to plan healthy and well-timed pregnancies. In addition to contraception and preconception health, our funding supports testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV, screening for some cancers, and gender affirming care. This helps make sure that sexual and reproductive health services are available across the state.

The clinics we support offer discounts based on family size and income. They serve all who want and need sexual and reproductive health services, with a focus on providing services to people who have low-incomes and people who are uninsured or underinsured.

We periodically invite interested organizations to apply to join our network of direct service providers to ensure the broadest possible coverage statewide.

We also use state funding to cover abortion services for people with insurance when that insurance is regulated by Washington State and does not include coverage for abortion. (Currently limited to people with insurance through Providence Health Plan.)

Coordinate and collaborate to increase access and remove barriers

We coordinate with Upstream Washington through participation on their advisory board, facilitating introductions to health care providers, and information sharing meetings. Upstream's multi-year initiative provides training and technical assistance to health centers to increase access to the full range of birth control methods in a single visit.

We partner within the department with programs focused on STI/HIV, maternal health, adolescent health, sexual and domestic violence, and emergency preparedness to amplify public health messages and services.

We collaborate with other state agencies to make sure sexual and reproductive health perspectives are included in policy decisions. We also work to increase access to sexual and reproductive health services and education in schools and the criminal justice system.

We meet with representatives from the clinics we fund, the state agencies we work most closely with, and other stakeholders, such as Upstream, at least twice a year to share successes and problem-solve to overcome challenges. Our Network meetings help ensure best practices in sexual and reproductive health are disseminated statewide.

How sexual and reproductive health services impact people's lives

Sexual and reproductive health services increase well-being for people of all genders. They include sexual and reproductive health education, client-centered counseling, and services including:

  • Sexually transmitted infection/HIV prevention, testing, and treatment
  • Cancer prevention, testing, and referral for treatment
  • Preconception health to improve health during pregnancy
  • Contraceptive care and infertility counseling so people can decide if, when, and how often to have children.

Sexual and reproductive health services increase the rate of intended pregnancy, which is associated with positive outcomes, including:

  • Earlier more consistent prenatal care
  • Increased likelihood of healthy-weight births
  • Increased likelihood of breastfeeding
  • Reduced risk of maternal depression
  • Reduced risk of physical violence during pregnancy

When people have the ability to control their own reproductive health, their life options increase. Their opportunity to enter or stay in school increases along with opportunities for employment and social and political participation. Sexual and reproductive health services are important for people of all genders and are especially important for teens.

Sexual and reproductive health services increase equity and decrease health disparities.

For more information on the benefits of sexual and reproductive health services see Guttmacher Institute, Healthy People 2020, and 2019 report to Washington State Legislature.

Department of Health links

Sexually Transmitted Disease and HIV/AIDS

Teen and Young Adult Health

Sexual Abuse and Domestic Violence

Additional Resources

Free or Low-cost Health Care Plans (Medicaid and other coverage)

Insurance available through Washington's Health Benefit Exchange

Reproductive and Sexual Health Information from Bedsider.org

Contact

Cynthia.Harris@doh.wa.gov
Sexual and Reproductive Health Program Manager
360-236-3401