Medical News

Sexual Health, Risk Behaviors and Substance Use in Heterosexual-Identified Women With Female Sex Partners: 2002 U.S. National Survey of Family Growth

September 23, 2010

The phenomenon in which people engage in same-sex sexuality without espousing a sexual minority identity "has rarely been studied in women," the authors wrote.


The current study used data from the 2002 US National Survey of Family Growth to compare a subset of women -- heterosexuals ages 20 to 44 who had one or more female sex partners in the previous year -- to bisexual, homosexual, and exclusively heterosexual women.

When compared to women who were exclusively heterosexual, heterosexual women reporting a past-year female sex partner were significantly more likely to: smoke tobacco (46 percent vs. 19 percent), binge-drink (34 percent vs. 11 percent), use marijuana (58 percent vs. 11 percent), and use cocaine (19 percent vs. 2 percent). "Substance use was high in this group overall, but they did not differ significantly from bisexuals on tobacco use or from homosexual or bisexual women on regular alcohol consumption," the authors noted.

Most of the heterosexual women with a female partner in the past year had had only one such partner in their lifetime. They reported a median of 10 lifetime male sex partners compared to one to seven for other groups. Though similar to heterosexual women with less recent female sex partners and to bisexual women on some sexual risk measures, these women were more likely than any other group to have had a non-monogamous male partner (40 percent) or to have had sex while high (69 percent). Demographic differences did not explain the differences in sexual risk and substance use.

"Results suggest same-sex behavior in heterosexual-identified women is a marker for a substance use and sexual risk profile distinct from that of bisexual, lesbian or exclusively heterosexual women," the authors concluded.

Back to other news for September 2010

Adapted from:
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
09.2010; Vol. 37; No. 9: P. 531-537; Greta R. Bauer, Jennifer A. Jairam, Shamara M. Baidoobonso

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.

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