Family Planning for Sexual Minority Women

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Abstract

The family planning needs of sexual minority women (SMW) are an understudied but growing area of research. SMW have family planning needs, both similar to and distinct from their exclusively heterosexual peers. Specifically, SMW experience unintended pregnancies at higher rates than their exclusively heterosexual peers, but factors that increase this risk are not well understood. Contraception use is not uncommon among SMW, but lesbian women are less likely to use contraception than bisexual or exclusively heterosexual women. High rates of unintended pregnancy suggest contraception is underused among SMW. Contraception counseling guidelines specific to SMW do not yet exist, but greater adoption of current best practices is likely to meet the needs of SMW. SMW may have unique needs for their planned pregnancies as well, for which obstetrics and gynecology (Ob/Gyn) providers should provide care and referrals. In general, understandings of the distinct family planning needs for SMW are limited and further research is needed, with particular attention to issues of overlapping health disparities related to status as a SMW and other factors such as race/ethnicity that may add additional layers of stigma and discrimination. Clinical resources are needed to help Ob/Gyns make their practice more welcoming to the needs of SMW.

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