Women’s Health Data: Sexual and reproductive health
Sexual and reproductive health covers a range of issues for women such as safe sex and contraception, unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Australian women are having fewer babies and at a later age than they were forty years ago, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are giving birth at a slightly younger age than non-Indigenous women. Young women are more vulnerable than older women to unsafe or unwanted sex and they are the predominant users of emergency contraception.
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In 2011, Australia’s total fertility rate was 1.88 babies per woman, down very slightly from 1.89 babies per woman in 20101.
Fertility rates are highest for women aged 30-34 years, recording 122 babies per 1,000 women1.
The median age of all mothers is 30.6 years, while the median age of fathers is 33.0 years1.
The average age of first time mothers in Australia was 28.2 years in 20082.
There were 56,489 assisted reproductive technology treatment cycles in 2010, a decrease of 12.4% on the number of treatment cycles performed in 20093.
The average age of assisted reproductive technology assisted mothers is 35.8 years3.
40% of chlamydia infections among women were reported in the 20 to 24 year age group4
The combined oral contraceptive pill remains the most common method of contraception used by Australian women5
51% of Australian women of reproductive age have experienced an unintended pregnancy in their lifetime6
32% of first pregnancies are unplanned and 27% are unwanted7
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women
In 2011, the total fertility rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women increased to 2.74 babies per woman, up from 2.57 babies per woman in 20101.
Births to women aged under 30 years contribute to three-quarters (76%) of the total fertility rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in 2011, compared with less than half of the total fertility rate for all women (46%)1.
The average age of Indigenous mothers is 25.1 years, compared with 30.1 years for non-Indigenous mothers2.
Condoms and the contraceptive pill are more commonly used among Indigenous women living in non-remote areas, while contraceptive injections and implants are more frequently used by Indigenous women in remote areas8.
Women from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds
Among overseas-born women, fertility rates vary widely, with the highest three rates from Samoa 4.63, Lebanon 3.98 and Syria 3.619.
Newly-arrived immigrant and refugee women are less likely than Australian-born women to have adequate information and familiarity with modern contraceptive methods10.
Approximately 80% of all chronic hepatitis B notifications in Australia are among people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds10.
High rates of chronic hepatitis B in low and middle income countries are related to a lack of comprehensive immunisation programs and a secure blood supply in their countries of origin11.
Women with disabilities
- Women with disabilities who choose to have a child may encounter prejudice from people who have a perception that a person with a disability is non-sexual or not capable of having a relationship or caring for a child12.
Same-sex attracted women
Same-sex attracted young women are more likely to identify as bisexual (42%) than lesbian (39%)13.
10% of same-sex attracted women aged 15 to 18 years have been pregnant (twice the rate of their heterosexual peers)13.
Young same-sex attracted women (74%) are more likely to have had sex in the past two years compared to young men (69%)13.
Despite their sexual attraction, one in five young same-sex attracted young women continue to have sex exclusively with the opposite sex13.
Increasing numbers of women are forming families within same-sex relationships and so are needing pregnancy advice and care14.
Young women are less likely (46%) than young men (61%) to always use condoms when having sex15.
It is more common for young women (91%) to seek advice regarding sexual health than it is for young men (82%)15.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. Births, Australia, 2011. Cat. No. 3301.0. Canberra: ABS: 2012. [cited 11 September 2013]. Available from: http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/3301.0Main+Features12011?OpenDocument. ↩
- Laws PJ, Li Z & Sullivan EA. Australia’s mothers and babies 2008. Perinatal statistics series no. 24. Cat. no. PER 50. Canberra: AIHW [cited 18 September 2013] Available from: : http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=6442472399. ↩
- Macaldowie A, Wang YA, Chambers GM, & Sullivan EA. Assisted reproductive technology in Australia and New Zealand 2010. Assisted reproduction technology series no. 15.Cat. no. PER 55. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2012 [cited 2 October 2013] Available from: http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=10737420465. ↩
- Victorian Department of Health. Victorian Infectious Diseases Bulletin. Volume 13, Issue 2; 2010 [cited 15 October 2013]. Available from: http://www.health.vic.gov.au/ideas/surveillance/vidb . ↩
- Mazza D, Harrison C, Taft A, et al. Current contraceptive management in general practice: an analysis of BEACH data. The Medical Journal of Australia 2012;197:110–4.
- Marie Stopes International. What women want: when faced with unplanned pregnancy. Melbourne: 2007 [cited 6 November 2013] Available from : http://www.mariestopes.org.au/research/australia/australia-what-women-want-when-faced-with-an-unplanned-pregnancy-key-findings. ↩
- Weisberg E, Bateson D, Read C, Estoesta J, Lee C. Fertility control? Middle-aged Australian women’s retrospective reports on their pregnancies. Aust NZ J Public Health 2008, 32(4):390-392.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Health Survey 2005, Cat. No. 4704.0, Canberra; ABS:2005 [cited 4 September 2013] Available from : http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/allprimarymainfeatures/9956167BEC6E8495CA2574390014E8AE?opendocument . ↩
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. Births, Australia, 2012. Cat. no. 3301.0. Canberra:ABS; 2013. [cited 2 November 2013] Available from: http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/3301.02012?OpenDocument . ↩
- Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health. Sexual and Reproductive Health Data Report. Melbourne: Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health:2010 [cited 2 November 2013] Available from: http://www.mcwh.com.au/resources/factsheet.php . ↩
- Department of Health and Ageing. National Hepatitis B Strategy 2010-13. Canberra: Australia. Department of Health and Ageing, 2010 [cited 3 September 2013] Available from: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/ohp-national-strategies-2010-hepb/ . ↩
- Better Health Channel. Disability and sexual issues. Melbourne: State Government of Victoria; 2011 [cited 6 November 2013] Available from: http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Disability_and_sexual_issues . ↩
- Hillier L, Jones T, Monagle M, Overton N, Gahan L, Blackman J & Mitchell A. Writing themselves in 3: the third national study on the sexual health and wellbeing of same sex attracted and gender questioning young people. Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society: La Trobe University; 2010 [cited 18 September 2013]. Available from: http://www.glhv.org.au/node/657. ↩
- McNair R, Dempsey D, Wise S, Perlesz A. Lesbian parenting: Issues, strengths and challenges. Family Matters. 2002; 63.
- Smith A, Agius P, Mitchell A, Berrett C & Pitts M. Secondary students and sexual health 2008: results of the 4th national survey of Australian secondary students, HIV/AIDS and sexual health. La Trobe University: Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society; 2009
Published: February 2014
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