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J Intellect Disabil Res. 2011 Apr;55(4):434-40. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2788.2011.01395.x. Epub 2011 Mar 3.

The use of contraception by women with intellectual disabilities.

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Department of Primary and Community Health Care, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.



Worldwide, contraception is frequently used by women for the prevention of conception, to regulate or postpone menstrual bleeding. The study aims to determine the use (number and method) of contraception by women with intellectual disabilities (ID), the indications, sources of referrals and relations with level of ID and age of the women concerned.


The study group consisted of 234 women aged between 15 and 59 years and residing at a Dutch service provider for persons with ID. Data were obtained via the pharmacy database, attending physicians and individual medical files.


Nearly one half (48%, n = 112) of the 234 residential women used some method of contraception: 87 (78%) took pharmacological contraceptive methods, 23 (20%) underwent surgical contraception and 2 (2%) both. Main reasons for contraception were problems with menstruation, behaviour and/or prevention of pregnancy. Requests for contraception were initiated mainly by physicians and parents. Differences between users of different contraceptives with regard to age and level of ID were not statistically significant.


Further studies should focus on the development and implementation of adequate health promotion materials on this subject.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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