Contraceptive use varies across sexual orientation groups

A study that looked at contraceptive use across different sexual orientation groups in the U.S. found that lesbian women were less likely than heterosexual women to have ever used any method of contraception.

The study also found that other sexual minority groups, including bisexual women, women who are mostly heterosexual, and heterosexual women who have had same-sex partners, were more likely to use long-acting reversible contraceptives than hetereosexual women.

The study drew on long-term data from 118,462 participants in the Nurses’ Health Studies 2 and 3.

The finding that lesbians were less likely than heterosexual women to use contraceptives suggests that they were missing opportunities for health care, including screenings for sexual transmitted diseases and Pap tests that check for cervical cancer, according to a May 14, 2019 press release from the Guttmacher Institute.

“Providers must ensure patients who want to use contraceptives, regardless of sexual orientation, have access,” said Brittany Charlton, assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and lead author of the study. “Additionally, patients who are not regularly seeing a provider for contraceptive care need to be brought into the health care system.”

Other Harvard Chan co-authors of the study included Audrey Gaskins, Jorge Chavarro, and senior author S. Bryn Austin.

Read the Guttmacher Institute press release: Providers Should Ensure All Patients, Regardless of Sexual Orientation, Have Access to Preventive Care