Women in the U.S. with physical &/or sensory disabilities more likely to be sterilized than women without disabilities

Source: Disability and Health Journal



Female sterilization accounts for 50% of all contraceptive use in the U.S. The extent to which U.S. women with physical and/or sensory disabilities have undergone female sterilization is unknown.


Our primary objective was to determine the prevalence of sterilization for women with physical/sensory disabilities, and compare this to the prevalence for women without disabilities. We also compared use of long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) methods between women with and without disabilities.


We conducted a secondary analysis of data from the National Survey of Family Growth 2011–2013, a population-based survey of U.S. women aged 15–44. Bivariate comparisons between women with and without disabilities by female sterilization and LARC use were conducted using chi-square tests. Using logistic regression, we estimated the odds of female sterilization based upon disability status.


Women with physical/sensory disabilities accounted for 9.3% of the total sample (N = 4966). Among women with disabilities only, 28.2% had undergone female sterilization, representing 1.2 million women nationally. LARC use was lower among women with disabilities than those without disabilities (5.4%, 9.3%, respectively, p < 0.01). After adjusting for age, race/ethnicity, education, insurance, marital status, parity, and self-reported health, women with disabilities had higher odds of sterilization (OR 1.36, 95% CI 1.03, 1.79).


The odds of female sterilization is higher among women with physical/sensory disabilities than those without disabilities. Future research is necessary to understand factors contributing to this finding, including possible underutilization of LARC methods.

“They just said inappropriate contact.” What do service users hear when staff talk about sex and relationships?

Source: JARID



Research into how people with intellectual disabilities (ID) pursue intimate relationships in care settings presents some contradictory findings; despite increasingly liberal staff views, service users experience significant restrictions. This study attempts to explore this gap within a secure hospital, examining service user’s representations of staff discourses about sexuality and intimate relationships.


Semi-structured interviews with eight service users with intellectual disability were analysed using critical discourse analysis.


Analysis enabled construction of 11 themes falling into three categories. Dominant discourses appeared to maintain the integrity of the institution, enable staff to occupy a position of power and demonstrate service users’ responses to perceived control.


Discourses around sex appear to serve the interests of staff and the hospital, while being restrictive and often incomprehensible to service users. Implications for service development, and future research directions, are considered in the context of “Transforming Care.”

Promoting sexuality across the life span for individuals with IDD

Ailey, SA, Marks, B, Crisp, C, Hahn, JE. (2003). Promoting sexuality across the life span for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Nurs Clin N Am 38, 229–252.

“No group in this country faces the sort of sexual and reproductive restrictions disabled people do: we are frequently prevented from marrying, bearing and/or rearing children, learning about sexuality, having sexual relationships and having access to sexual literature . . . [sexual] confusion arises as a consequence of society forcing us to internalize the notion that we are sexually inferior. This conspiracy, which society manufactures by way of discriminatory social policies which lead to our sexual subjugation, is keeping us in a state of sexual self-hate. I believe that this is done tacitly to keep us from doing the thing that poses an overwhelming threat to our disability-phobic society: taking their sons and daughters as sexual and life partners, bearing their grandchildren. If I sound full of rage to you, you’re reading me correctly, I am outraged.” —Barbara Faye Waxman, 1991, p. 85–6 [1]

Promoting sexuality across the life span for individuals with IDD – 2003