Sex in Australia: reproductive experiences and reproductive health among a representative sample of women

Aust N Z J Public Health. 2003;27(2):204-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-842x.2003.tb00809.x.


Objective: To document the reproductive experiences of a representative sample of Australian women aged 16-59 years.

Method: Computer-assisted telephone interviews were completed by a representative sample of 10,173 men and 9,134 women aged 16-59 years from all States and Territories. The overall response rate was 73.1% (69.4% among men, and 77.6% among women). Women were asked the number of times they had experienced a live birth, a still birth, a miscarriage and a termination of pregnancy.

Results: Of the women surveyed, 15.5% reported having experienced difficulty in becoming pregnant and 76.1% had been pregnant at least once. Nearly all the women who had been pregnant reported experiencing a live birth. Substantial minorities of women reported having experienced a miscarriage (33.4%) or a termination of pregnancy (22.6%). The percentage of women who reported becoming pregnant the first time as a teenager declined from 22.8% among women aged 50-59 to 16.9% among women aged 20-29. Of those who had had vaginal intercourse, 19.2% had used emergency contraception, 53.3% of them only once.

Conclusion: There was clear evidence of substantial changes in the fertility of Australian women over the past 40 years.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Legal / statistics & numerical data
  • Abortion, Spontaneous / epidemiology
  • Adolescent
  • Adoption
  • Adult
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Birth Rate
  • Contraception Behavior
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Fertility
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data