Women with disabilities may not receive the same amount of sexuality and reproductive health information from the same sources as non-disabled women, and they obtain less of their education through sexual experience.
A study compared the sexual knowledge, feelings and needs of mostly women and some men with a physical and mild intellectual disability, to those of the general population and found that:
- People with physical disability had less sexual knowledge
- People with physical disability had less sexual experience
- People with physical disability had more negative attitudes toward sex
- Half of people with disabilities had never had any sex education
- People with disabilities were less likely to get sexual information from their family and friends
- People with disabilities were more likely to get sexual information from media, such as TV, magazines or formal classes.
A national study that focused only on how women with physical disabilities learn about sexuality also found that they were more likely to learn about sexual intercourse from college courses. However, they found that overall, women with disabilities received sexual information at the same age and from the same sources as women without disabilities.
Overprotective parents and caregivers may prevent teens with disabilities from learning about and experiencing sexuality. Studies indicate that women with disabilities have strong, often unmet needs to experience dating, intimacy, and sexual interaction, but they lack opportunity for sexual expression and lag behind their peers in sexual experience.
Health care providers, assuming that women with visible or disfiguring disabilities are not interested in sex or not sexually active, are less likely to offer information on birth control, safe sex practices, sexually transmitted disease and possible effects of their disabilities on sexual response, than they are to women without disabilities.