Sexual and Reproductive Health Information: Disparities Across Sexual Orientation Groups in Two Cohorts of US Women

Ariella R. Tabaac, Boston Children's Hospital Sebastien Haneuse, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Michelle Johns, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Andy S.L. Tan, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute S. Bryn Austin, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Jennifer Potter, Harvard Medical School Laura D. Lindberg Brittany M. Charlton, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

First published on Sexuality Research and Social Policy:

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Abstract / Summary

Limited research exists about how receiving/seeking sexual and reproductive health (SRH) information differs by sexual orientation. Our goal was to identify how sources and topics of SRH information differed by sexual orientation during adolescence in a sample of US women.

A sample of 8541 US women ages 22–35 years from two cohorts of the Growing Up Today Study completed a 2016 questionnaire measure about receiving/seeking SRH information before age 18 years. Adjusted log-linear models assessed differences in SRH information topics and sources by reported sexual orientation (completely heterosexual with no same-sex partners [reference], completely heterosexual with same-sex partners, mostly heterosexual, bisexual, lesbian).

Compared with the referent, most sexual minority subgroups were more likely to receive/seek information from peers, media, and other sources (e.g., community centers). With the exception of lesbians, sexual minority subgroups were more likely to receive/seek information about contraception, and mostly heterosexual and bisexual women were more likely to receive information about sexually transmitted infections.

Findings indicate that women of diverse sexual orientations need access to SRH information from sources like schools, peers, and media. Sexual minority women receive/seek information about many SRH topics, which indicates that opportunities to tailor educational resources within and outside of schools are needed so SRH benefits to these populations are maximized.

Policy Implications
Specifying sexual minority–sensitive educational materials in sex education policy can meet information needs and aid sexual minority women in making informed sexual health decisions.


United States