The sexual and reproductive health of women with mental illness: a primary care registry study

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The purpose of this study is to characterise the sexual and reproductive health risks associated with mental illness among women. This was a retrospective cohort study of 2,680,149 women aged 14 to 45 years in the Clinical Practice Research Datalink, a UK primary care register, linked to 1,702,211 pregnancies that ended between the 1st January 1990 and 31st December 2017. Mental illness was identified in primary care and categorised into the following: common mental illness (depression/anxiety); addiction (alcohol/drug misuse); serious mental illness (affective/non-affective psychosis); other mental illness (eating/personality disorders). Logistic regression estimated the association between mental illness and subsequent risk of recurrent miscarriage and termination. Cox proportional hazards estimated the association between mental illness and time to gynaecological diseases, sexually transmitted infections, reproductive cancers, cervical screen, contraception and emergency contraception. Models were adjusted for calendar year, year of birth, smoking status and ethnicity, region and index of socioeconomic status. Compared to women without mental illness, exposed women were more likely to experience recurrent miscarriage (adjOR = 1.50, 95%CI 1.41 to 1.60), termination (adjOR = 1.48, 95%CI 1.45 to 1.50), gynaecological diseases (adjHR = 1.39, 95%CI 1.37 to 1.40), sexually transmitted infections (adjHR = 1.47, 95%CI 1.43 to 1.51), reproductive cancers (adjHR = 1.10, 95%CI 1.02 to 1.19), contraception (adjHR = 1.28 95%CI 1.26 to 1.29) and emergency contraception (adjHR = 2.30, 95%CI 2.26 to 2.34), and less likely to attend for cervical screening (adjHR = 0.91, 95%CI 0.90 to 0.92). Currently, the sexual and reproductive health needs of women with mental illness are unmet representing significant health inequalities. Clinicians must create opportunities to engage with women in primary care and mental health services to address this gap.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)585-593
Number of pages9
JournalArchives of Women's Mental Health
Issue number3
Early online date2 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022


  • mental illness
  • reproductive health
  • fertility
  • sexual health
  • contraception
  • cervical screening


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