Sexuality and Disability

, Volume 37, Issue 4, pp 541–557 | Cite as

Contraceptive Practices and Reproductive Health Considerations for Adolescent and Adult Women with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: A Review of the Literature

  • Jorge V. VerlendenEmail author
  • Jeanne Bertolli
  • Lee Warner
Original Paper


Whereas progress has been made on increasing access to comprehensive healthcare for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), disparities continue in health outcomes, including those related to the reproductive health of adolescent and adult women with I/DD. This review summarizes reproductive care considerations for adolescent and adult women with I/DD and current practices regarding the delivery of contraceptive services to these women. Forty-seven (47) articles based on research conducted in the US between 1999 and 2019 were selected for inclusion in the review. Primary themes discussed include (1) common reproductive health concerns for adolescent and adult women with I/DD, other than pregnancy prevention; (2) contraceptive methods and disability-related concerns; (3) informed consent and reproductive decision-making; and (4) provider knowledge and education. The management of menses and hormonal dysregulation were identified as concerns that providers encounter among patients with I/DD and their families. Disability-related concerns with regard to use of contraception in general and considerations regarding certain methods in particular include challenges with prescription adherence, physical effects of hormonal therapies, drug interactions for individuals with additional health conditions, and legal and ethical concerns involved with decision-making and consent. The results of this review also suggest that focused efforts in partnership with health care providers may be needed to address barriers that adolescent and adult women with I/DD face when trying to obtain quality reproductive health services and contraceptive guidance.


Contraception Intellectual disability Developmental disability Reproductive health Family medicine Primary care United States 



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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jorge V. Verlenden
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  • Jeanne Bertolli
    • 2
  • Lee Warner
    • 3
  1. 1.Morehouse School of MedicineSatcher Health Leadership InstituteAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Division of Human Development and Disability, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental DisabilitiesCenters for Disease Control and PreventionAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.Division of Reproductive Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health PromotionCenters for Disease Control and PreventionAtlantaUSA
  4. 4.AtlantaUSA

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