Understanding young bisexual women’s sexual, reproductive and mental health through syndemic theory

Corey E. Flanders, Giselle Gos, Cheryl Dobinson, Carmen H. Logie


OBJECTIVES: We sought to understand how young bisexual women in Toronto perceive their sexual and reproductive health needs, the challenges to achieving those needs, and the factors contributing both positively and negatively to their sexual and reproductive health.

METHODS: We conducted a community-based research project that included an advisory committee of young bisexual women, academic partners, and a community health centre. Four 2-hour focus group sessions were conducted with a total of 35 participants. Data were analyzed through a constructivist grounded theory approach using Nvivo software.

RESULTS: Participants’ discussion of their sexual and reproductive health indicated that they perceived social marginalization, particularly biphobia and monosexism, as a significant challenge to their health. Participants also discussed their sexual, reproductive and mental health as interconnected.

CONCLUSIONS: Young bisexual women in this study perceived their sexual, reproductive and mental health as interconnected and negatively influenced by social marginalization. This perception is in line with syndemic research that illustrates the interrelationship between psychosocial and sexual health. Researchers should further explore the utility of syndemic theory in understanding the complexity of young bisexual women’s health.


Bisexuality; sexual health; mental health; young adult

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17269/cjph.106.5100