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Improving reproductive health care services for women with a physical disability: Insights from a community survey of women with spinal cord injury in Switzerland
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  • Sue Bertschy,
  • Cristina Bostan,
  • Petra Stute,
  • Dimitrios Skempes,
  • Franziska Maurer-Marti,
  • Armin Gemperli
Sue Bertschy
Swiss Paraplegic Research
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Cristina Bostan
Swiss Paraplegic Research
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Petra Stute
Insel Hospital Group
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Dimitrios Skempes
Swiss Paraplegic Research
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Franziska Maurer-Marti
Solothurn Hospital Group
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Armin Gemperli
Swiss Paraplegic Research
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Abstract

Objective: To describe a cohort of women with a physical disability in various reproductive life stages to support the development of specific management targets, especially during the fertile stage. Design: Community survey. Population / Sample: We analysed data from 440 female participants with chronic spinal cord injury (SCI) aged over 16 years from the cross-sectional community survey of the Swiss Spinal Cord Injury Cohort Study (SwiSCI) in 2017. Methods: The full cohort was analysed using descriptive analysis. For women in the fertile reproductive life stage, a regression technique was used to identify the predictors of becoming a mother after SCI. Results: More than 50% of the sample were aged over 56, and approximately one fourth were in the fertile (16-45 years) age group. Motherhood after SCI was most prevalent in women with low and incomplete lesions and those who sustained an SCI at a young age. The chances of giving birth significantly decreased when sustaining an SCI after the age of 35. The mean age at first delivery after SCI (age 31.2±5 years) was five years higher compared to women with an SCI who gave birth before sustaining SCI (age 26.2±5 years). Conclusions: The study provides evidence for the need for tailored and specific lifespan adjusted obstetric and gynaecological services for women with SCI and for women with a disability in general. Funding: This study has been financed through the framework of the Swiss Spinal Cord Injury Cohort Study supported by the Swiss Paraplegic Foundation.