Contraception and women with learning disabilities

medicine in blisterpack

This study looked at the use of contraception by a study population of 234 women aged 15-59 who lived in services provided by a Dutch service provider.

The authors gathered data from the pharmacy database, attending physicians and medical files.

The study found that 48%, of the 234 women used some method of contraception, 78% using pharmacological contraceptive methods, 20% who had undergone surgical contraception and 2% who had used both.

The reasons given in medical files ranged from problems with menstruation to behaviour and/or prevention of pregnancy.  The authors point out that the majority of requests for contraception were initiated by physicians and parents. They found no statistically significant differences between users of different kinds of contraceptives with regard to age and level of learning disability.

They conclude that this is an area that needs more attention, and that future studies could focus on the development and implementation of adequate health promotion materials for women with learning disabilities to improve choice.

The use of contraception by women with intellectual disabilities, van Schrojenstein Lantman-de Valk, H. et al in Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 55: 434–440.

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John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

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