Introduction: This study examines reproductive health care access and utilization by Mexicans in New York City.
Methods: This report uses data collected by Planned Parenthood of New York City (PPNYC) as part of a larger sexual and reproductive health (SRH) needs assessment. We analyzed various demographic factors and barriers to describe SRH access and utilization of services among Mexican immigrant women residing in New York City (NYC). We purposely sampled 151 adult women seeking assistance from the Mexican Consulate of New York City and other community-based organizations (CBOs). Women choosing to participate were administered an anonymous survey. Data collected included age at time of survey completion, Mexican State of origin, length of time in the United States, borough of residence, insurance status, history of SRH service utilization in NYC, and current contraceptive use. Participants were also asked a series of questions to assess barriers to obtaining SRH services.
Results: The majority of our participants had been to a hospital, due primarily to childbirth; while far less had been to a health center or doctor’s office for reproductive health care. Some women said they used home remedies and/or botanicas for reproductive health, as well as products from Mexico, regardless of whether or not they visited medical professionals in NYC. In terms of services received, most had received some form of prenatal care in NYC (88%), but many said they had never been to a doctor’s office or health center for routine reproductive health care (e.g., PAP smears or testing for sexually transmitted infections) nor obtained birth control methods when not pregnant (32%). Seventeen percent of women in our sample reported currently using male condoms alone, and an additional 3% are using condoms along with another method of birth control. Forty-one percent of women reported not using any contraceptive method currently.
Discussion: The findings show that there is a need for affordable, comprehensive, and linguistically appropriate sexual and reproductive health care among Mexican immigrant women. It is possible that child-friendly environments (where women can come with children to the appointment in the case that other forms of child-care are not available) may further facilitate access to SRH services. The findings of this study should be interpreted with caution, as this is a relatively small sample size, and cannot be generalized to the larger Mexican female immigrant community of New York City.
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