Reproductive health is an important part of every woman’s overall health and well-being. Sadly, women with disabilities tend to receive poor gynecologic screening and care. In general...
- Women with disabilities are less likely to be referred for mammograms and screening for cervical cancer
- Therefore, breast cancer is diagnosed at later stages in women with disabilities and deaths from breast cancer are higher in women with disabilities.
- At some point in life, 31 percent of women with disabilities have been denied care by a physician
- In a study on access to care for patients with mobility impairments, Lagu, et al. found that gynecology had the highest rate of inaccessible practices
So what do we do? We make everyone aware this is a problem and push to be sure that, as women with disabilities; we receive the care we need!
Well Woman Exam
One of the first things to do is be sure you are scheduling and going to get an annual well woman exam. See our Well Woman Exam page for more information on this topic.
Well woman exams will include cervical cancer screening and a referral for a mammogram, depending on your age. Many women with disabilities believe they will be unable to get these tests due to their physical impairment. This is not true! Work with your provider to find a facility that is accessible and willing to work with your needs.
Another reproductive issue many women with disabilities face is menstruation. Menstrual hygiene can be difficult for women with disabilities, especially those who require the assistance of another person for this task. In addition, menses may cause symptoms of disability to worsen and some medications used to manage certain disabilities may have a side effect of abnormal menstrual bleeding. See our Menstruation page for more information.
Contraception (Birth Control)
Contraception, more commonly known as birth control, is not always discussed with women with disabilities. Many healthcare providers assume women with disabilities are not sexually active. However, in addition to pregnancy prevention, birth control can be an effective method of managing menstruation. Be sure to speak up to your provider if you would like information on birth control. To prepare for your visit, see our Contraception page.
Reproductive Health Throughout Life
Many women with disabilities have questions regarding reproductive needs throughout their life. The Pelvic Health Initiative includes research on transitions for women with disabilities into different life phases. Click the links below for more information.
- Teens and young women
- Women who want to become pregnant
- Women during pregnancy
- Women after pregnancy
- Women in menopause