Teen Pregnancy Experiences of Sexual Minority Women

J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol. 2019 Oct;32(5):499-505. doi: 10.1016/j.jpag.2019.05.009. Epub 2019 May 28.


Study objective: Sexual minority women are more likely than heterosexual peers to have a teen pregnancy, though little is known about origins of this disparity. Our objective was to describe teen pregnancy experiences among sexual minority women and elucidate potential risk factors.

Design: As a part of the SexuaL Orientation, Gender Identity, and Pregnancy Experiences (SLOPE) study, in-depth semistructured interviews and surveys were conducted.

Setting: Across the United States.

Participants: Interviews were conducted with 10 sexual minority cisgender women, ages 21-66 years, who experienced a teen pregnancy.

Main outcome measures: Interview transcripts were analyzed using immersion/crystallization and template organizing style approaches. The themes were contextualized using survey data and organized into a conceptual model.

Results and conclusion: Participants first became pregnant between ages 12 and 19 years; all pregnancies were described as unintentional. Half of the pregnancies resulted from sexual assault. Most of the remaining pregnancies resulted from consensual sex with a boyfriend or regular partner with whom the participant reported inconsistent or no contraceptive use. Five primary themes emerged from participants' interviews: (1) sexuality; (2) life history and contextual factors before pregnancy; (3) abuse and assault; (4) reactions to the pregnancy; and (5) pregnancy outcomes. Future research should assess each theme to explore its contribution to the higher burden of teen pregnancies among sexual minority compared with heterosexual women; such data can inform public health prevention campaigns and evidenced-based curricula for health care providers who care for adolescents.

Keywords: Pregnancy in adolescence; Qualitative research; Risk factors; Sexual minorities; Violence; Women.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence / psychology*
  • Pregnancy, Unplanned
  • Qualitative Research
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexual and Gender Minorities / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Young Adult