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Autism and Menstruation: A Shocking Struggle Uncovered

Autism and Menstruation: A Shocking Struggle Uncovered

Autism and Menstruation

Key Points

  1. Adolescents with developmental disabilities, including autism, face unique challenges when accessing reproductive health care.
  2. These adolescents are more likely to be diagnosed with menstrual disorders, polycystic ovary syndrome, and premenstrual syndrome than their typically developing peers.
  3. They are less likely to visit an OB/GYN or use any form of hormonal contraception, implying potential care disparities.
  4. Primary care providers play a crucial role in providing access to reproductive health care services for this population.
  5. Efforts to improve access to reproductive health care services should target care delivered in both pediatric and OB/GYN settings to ensure the health and well-being of these adolescents.

 

Have you ever thought about the unique challenges adolescents with developmental disabilities face when accessing reproductive health care? A recent study by Kaiser Permanente Northern California has illuminated some surprising disparities.

The Study

The research compared the use of reproductive health care services among three groups: 700 autistic adolescents, 836 adolescents with other developmental disabilities, and 2187 typically developing adolescents. The findings were enlightening.

Findings

Autistic adolescents and those with other developmental disabilities were more likely to receive diagnoses of menstrual disorders, polycystic ovary syndrome, and premenstrual syndrome than their typically developing peers. Yet, the two neurodivergent groups were less likely to be referred to an OB/GYN or use any form of hormonal contraception, such as oral contraception, hormonal implants, and intrauterine devices.

Adolescents in all three groups most often accessed hormonal contraception through their primary care provider.  This highlights the crucial role primary care providers play in providing access to reproductive health care services for this population.

Implications

The research concluded that adolescents with developmental disabilities, including autism, are less likely than their typically developing peers to visit the OB/GYN. This suggests potential care disparities that may persist into adulthood.

Addressing the Disparities

Efforts to improve access to reproductive health care services in these populations should target care delivered in both primary health care providers and OB/GYN settings. The study underscores the importance of providing comprehensive reproductive health care services to adolescents with developmental disabilities, including autism, to ensure their health and well-being.

As we delve deeper into the world of adolescent health, it's crucial that we address these disparities. Let's bridge the gap and ensure all adolescents have equal access to reproductive health care services. 

 

Read the full study here: 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38218512/#:~:text=Results%3A%20Autistic%20adolescents%20and%20adolescents,syndrome%20than%20typically%20developing%20adolescents.

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