Bisexual or questioning? Don't skip the birth control

A new study shows that for women who sleep with both men and women, birth control may be extra important.

Being a woman who sleeps with other women doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t need to think about birth control. In fact, a new study shows that birth control may be especially important for bisexual women and women who identify as straight but have had female partners (we’ll be saying WSW—women who have sex with women—for the purposes of this article).

The study from Harvard University looked at over 6,400 girls starting when they were between the ages of 9 and 14—all the girls were children of nurses who participated in the massive national Nurses’ Health Study. The researchers kept in touch with the girls for up to 11 years, learning about their health, sexual orientation, birth control use, and pregnancies.

  • About 15% of the young women in the study reported they were bisexual or WSW—and these participants were more than twice as likely to get pregnant as teenagers (4-9%) compared to their heterosexual peers (2%).

  • Bisexual and WSW reported using a method of hormonal birth control more often (79-89%) than their heterosexual peers (68%), though the study didn’t ask whether the women stuck with their methods or used them correctly.

  • The study didn’t factor in whether the young women had had sex for the first time yet—and we know from national research that less than half of teens have.

  • In general, and maybe partly because these young ladies are the children of nurses, they had high birth control use and low accidental pregnancy compared to the national average.

It could be that bisexuality or sleeping with women is related to something else that we already know increases the risk of an accidental pregnancy—like less access to effective birth control or having sex for the first time at a younger age. Even without knowing all the answers to these questions, this study does show that bisexual and WSW may especially benefit from birth control to prevent accidental pregnancies. So be aggressive about finding a method that works for your life—no matter who lights your fire.

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