Reproductive health history of lesbians: implications for care

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2004 May;190(5):1298-304. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2003.12.001.


Objective: Parity and hormonal contraceptives modify the risk of reproductive cancers and cardiovascular disease. However, clinicians may not obtain reproductive histories from patients who self-identify as lesbian. We report lifetime pregnancy-related outcomes and hormonal contraception for 392 women who reported sexual activity with another woman in the preceding year.

Study design: Among self-referred volunteers, previous pregnancy, pregnancy outcome, contraceptive use, and sexual identity were assessed with self-administered questionnaire.

Results: One in 4 subjects had been pregnant, and more than 50% of the women had used oral contraceptives (mean duration, 40 months). Sixteen percent of all subjects and 63% of those who had been pregnant previously reported having 1 or more induced abortions. The most common pregnancy outcome for women younger than 25 years was induced abortion (59% of pregnancies). Identifying as "lesbian" or "bisexual" predicted neither the duration of oral contraceptive use nor a report of induced abortion.

Conclusion: Previous pregnancy, induced abortion, and hormonal contraceptive use are common among women who report sex with women, regardless of self-identification as lesbian.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced / statistics & numerical data
  • Bisexuality
  • Contraception / methods*
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Homosexuality, Female*
  • Humans
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Pregnancy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Reproductive History*
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Sexual Partners
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Surveys and Questionnaires