Table of Contents
International Journal of Family Medicine
Volume 2013, Article ID 642472, 8 pages
Review Article

Sexual and Reproductive Health Care for Women with Intellectual Disabilities: A Primary Care Perspective

1Department of Family Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Dowling 5, 771 Albany Street, Boston, MA 02118, USA
2Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health, 801 Massachusetts Avenue, 4th floor, Boston, MA 02118, USA

Received 25 June 2013; Revised 19 September 2013; Accepted 3 October 2013

Academic Editor: Samuel Y. S. Wong

Copyright © 2013 Nechama W. Greenwood and Joanne Wilkinson. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Adults with intellectual disabilities (ID) face multiple health disparities and challenges to accessing health care. Little is known about sexual health care of this population and about how to optimize women’s reproductive health care for women with intellectual disabilities. Women with ID face important barriers to care, including lack of provider training and experience, hesitancy to broach the topic of sexual health, a lack of sexual knowledge and limited opportunities for sex education, disability-related barriers, higher prevalence of sexual abuse and assault, often underreported, lack of dialogue around this population’s human right to consensual sexual expression, undertreatment of menstrual disorders, and legal and systemic barriers. We conducted a limited literature review related to six aspects of sexual health care of women with ID, including barriers to sexual health care, sex education, sexual abuse and consensual sexuality, contraception, screening for sexually transmitted infections and cervical cancer, and pregnancy and parenting. After providing background information about each topic, we suggest practice recommendations for primary care clinicians, using a rights-based framework.