Sexual orientation and sexual and reproductive health among adolescent young women in the United States

Samantha L. Tornello, Rachel G. Riskind, Charlotte J. Patterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

132 Scopus citations


Purpose We studied sexual and reproductive health among self-identified bisexual, lesbian, and heterosexual adolescent young women. Prior research has suggested that bisexual and lesbian young women may be at greater risk for many negative health outcomes, including risky sexual and reproductive health behavior. Methods Using data from the U.S. nationally representative 2006-2010 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), we examined sexual and reproductive health among young women 15-20 years of age as a function of sexual orientation. We used logistic regression and ANCOVA to examine differences in sexual and reproductive health across groups while controlling for demographic group differences. Results Bisexual and lesbian young women reported elevated sexual and reproductive health risks. Bisexual and lesbian participants reported being younger at heterosexual sexual debut, and having more male and female sexual partners, than did heterosexual participants. Further, they were more likely than heterosexual young women to report having been forced to have sex by a male partner. Bisexual young women reported the earliest sexual debut, highest numbers of male partners, greatest use of emergency contraception, and highest frequency of pregnancy termination. Conclusions Overall, sexual minority young women - especially those who identified as bisexual - were at higher sexual and reproductive risk than their heterosexual peers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)160-168
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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