Contraceptive choices for women with learning disabilities

Walmsley, Jan; Earle, Sarah; Tilley, Elizabeth; Chapman, Rohhss; Ledger, Susan and Townson, Lou (2016). Contraceptive choices for women with learning disabilities. Learning Disability Practice, 19(2) pp. 32–34.



This article reports the results of interviews with 19 women with learning disabilities about their experiences of making decisions about contraception. It builds upon an online survey conducted with third parties who were close to women with learning disabilities, such as family members, professionals and advocates, that was carried out in 2012. The research team adopted a flexible approach to interviewing, following the preferences of the women, for example making sure they had a friend or staff member with them if that was what they preferred. The research revealed that many of the women used contraception to manage menstruation; twelve had not been given sufficient information to make informed choices about their contraception; many had been subject to persuasion by others to start using a particular contraceptive; and reviews of the efficacy of the contraceptive to manage menstrual pain were rare. There is a clear case for more research that focuses on the direct experiences of women in this area. There also needs to be a greater awareness among health professionals of the need to be proactive in providing advice and ensuring that contraceptive use and choices receive regular review.

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