February 1974

Sexual Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices of Young Female Psychiatric Patients

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1974;30(2):180-182. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1974.01760080040005

To estimate the need for family planning services in the psychiatric hospital, attitudinal, informational, and behavioral data relevant to fertility were collected in interviews with 60 consecutive female inpatient admissions, aged 13 to 28, to two state hospitals.

More than two thirds of the sample were sexually active, half had used some birth control method, but only 11 had used birth control on the occasion of last coitus. Seventeen had been pregnant for a total of 26 pregnancies; 15 pregnancies resulted in a live birth, seven were kept by the mothers.

Despite the youth of the sample, these histories already suggest high frequencies of contraceptively unprotected coitus, unwanted pregnancy, and unwanted birth. Outcomes tended either to fetal wastage or rejection of the child who then becomes a ward of society.