Demography

, Volume 54, Issue 3, pp 887–909 | Cite as

Non-Heterosexuality, Relationships, and Young Women’s Contraceptive Behavior

Article

Abstract

Non-heterosexual young women have a higher rate of unintended pregnancy than their heterosexual peers, but their fertility behaviors are understudied. We use longitudinal data from the Relationship Dynamics and Social Life study to investigate mechanisms contributing to non-heterosexual women’s higher pregnancy risk. These data include weekly reports of relationships, sex, and contraceptive use over 30 months. We compare the relationships and fertility behaviors of three groups: exclusively heterosexual (consistent heterosexual behavior, identity, and attraction); mostly heterosexual (heterosexual identity with same-sex behavior and/or same-sex attraction); and LGBTQ (any non-heterosexual identity). We find that mostly heterosexual and LGBTQ women behave differently from exclusively heterosexual women in ways likely to elevate their risk of unintended pregnancy: more distinct partners during the study period, more sexual intercourse with men, less frequent contraceptive use, less use of a dual method (condom plus hormonal method), and more gaps in contraceptive coverage. Mostly heterosexual women resemble LGBTQ women in their contraceptive behavior but have significantly more intercourse with men, which may increase their pregnancy risk relative to both LGBTQ and exclusively heterosexual women. We conclude by considering implications for LGBTQ health and the measurement of sexual minority populations.

Keywords

Relationships Contraception Sexuality Non-heterosexual young women 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We are grateful to Jennifer Barber, Yasamin Kusunoki, Heather Gatny, and the RDSL working group for their support and feedback on earlier drafts. We gratefully acknowledge grants from National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01 HD050329, R01 HD050329-S1; PI Barber, R24 HD041028, T32 HD007339) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R21 DA024186; PI Axinn). Earlier versions were presented at the annual meetings of the American Sociological Association (San Francisco, August, 2014) and the Population Association of America (San Diego, May, 2015).

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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Population Studies Center, Institute for Social ResearchUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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