Culture, Health & Sexuality. An International Journal for Research, Intervention and Care.
Homeless youth have disproportionately high rates of unintended pregnancy and STIs. Enhancing communication between sexual partners can improve sexual health outcomes, yet little is known about this topic among homeless youth; therefore, this study aimed to examine how homeless youth communicate with their partners about birth control. In-depth semi-structured interviews regarding intimate partner birth control communication were conducted with 10 homeless young women aged 14–22 years following their completion of a comprehensive sexual health program (Wahine Talk). We transcribed the interviews verbatim and used a structured, inductive analytic approach to identify themes. Analysis identified three themes: Getting the Conversation Started, Conversation Content, and Impact of Conversation. Birth control conversations were prompted by programme participation, birth control side effects, and family members’ interest in homeless youth becoming pregnant. Barriers to communication included fear and mistimed conversations (e.g. during the initiation of sex). Homeless young people shared simultaneous desires to delay pregnancy and concerns about side effects of birth control use. Discussions about birth control with their partners may demonstrably improve homeless youth’s intimate relationships and family planning efforts. Providers can support homeless young women by helping them plan conversation timing and addressing fear, including the risk of violence.