sex prgnancy disabilities-alhusen

Sex, pregnancy, and living with disability

University of Virginia School of Nursing students peer into one another’s ears, noses and throats, palpate one another’s livers, and listen for irregular heartbeats. Graduate students gently nudge central lines into pulsating, life-like chests just under the collarbone, and practice placing sutures across lacerations on pigs’ feet. Undergraduates don and doff protective gear as they learn the highly controlled entrance and exit procedures of an isolation unit.

From down the hall come the cries of a fevered baby with bronchiolitis. In another room, a huge variety of simulated body parts are catheterized, their wounds dressed and IV drips placed. One room over, Noelle, an expectant mother, is giving birth. Again.

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How regularly do women with disabilities receive pelvic exams and Pap tests? Primary care related to their sexual and reproductive health? And how often do they experience unintended pregnancies in a country where roughly half of all pregnancies are unplanned?

“Contrary to what many believe, many women living with disabilities have active sexual lives,” notes associate professor Jeanne Alhusen who received a $454,000 NIH grant to lead a first-of-its-kind two-year study. “It’s high time that we ensure their reproductive health access as well by understanding what issues they face." >>