Experiences of Reproductive and Sexual Health And Health Care Among Women with Disabilities

Authored by: Heather Dillaway , Brianna Marzolf , Heather Fritz , Wassim Tarraf , Catherine Lysack

Routledge International Handbook of Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health

Print publication date:  October  2019
Online publication date:  September  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138490260
eBook ISBN: 9781351035620
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781351035620-39

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Abstract

Impairment alone does not define the experiences of reproductive and sexual health and health care for women with disabilities. Instead, lack of provision of services, lack of accessibility of services, problems with service delivery, and lack of medical knowledge and training affect women’s ability to secure quality reproductive and sexual health care when they have a disability. Negative attitudes towards women with disabilities also impact reproductive and sexual choices and experiences. This chapter discusses basic barriers to good reproductive and sexual health and health care for women with disabilities, focusing on the case of women with spinal cord injuries. While many women with spinal cord injuries report having satisfactory reproductive and sexual lives, they also report difficulties managing menstruation, handling conversations with doctors about whether they can (or should) get pregnant or use contraception, and thinking about whether or how to engage in intimate relationships post-injury. Understanding the reasons for varied reproductive and sexual experiences is critical if we care about ensuring good health and health care for women with disabilities.

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