Sexual Health

Lisa Lindley

Dr. Lisa Lindley

For more than two decades, the United States has reported significant declines in teen pregnancy, teen birth, and teen abortion rates, as much research and programmatic attention has been directed toward addressing these issues. Yet, rates of unintended pregnancies among teens and other age groups have remained largely unchanged, and the U.S. unintended pregnancy rates remain the highest in the industrialized world. Moreover, the issue of pregnancy risk among sexual minority (non-heterosexual) populations has been largely ignored in pregnancy prevention research.

Lisa Lindley, an associate professor in George Mason’s College of Health and Human Services’ Department of Global and Community Health, conducts research focused on sexual health promotion and the prevention of HIV/STIs and unintended pregnancies among underserved populations. Her most recent paper, "Congruence across Sexual Orientation Dimensions and Risk for Unintended Pregnancy among Adult U.S. Women," explored whether adult (aged 18 to 44 years) sexual minority women (SMW) were more likely to have unintended pregnancies compared with heterosexual women, examined the role of sexual identity-attraction congruence in unintended pregnancy risk, and evaluated possible mediators. Using data on pregnancies from the 2006-2013 National Survey of Family Growth (n=25,403), Lindley and colleagues found that SMW were more likely to have unintended pregnancies than heterosexual women and that the increased risk was concentrated, specifically, among women who were “incongruent” in their sexual identity and attraction (i.e., women who reported being sexually attracted to other women but who identified as heterosexual)  Moreover, they found that elevated risk of unintended pregnancy among women with sexual identity-attraction incongruence was explained by their greater average number of male sex partners (and, to a lesser extent, earlier age at first sex), compared with heterosexual women. 

Risk infographic

508 accessibility: A description of the infographic above is available (.docx).

Conference: 2016 STD Prevention Conference

Dr. Lindley presented "STDs Among Transgender College Students in the US: The Role of Experienced Discrimination". View a recording of her presentation below. 

Selected Peer-reviewed Articles

Hartnett CS, Lindley LL, Walsemann KW. Congruence across Sexual Orientation Dimensions and Risk for Unintended Pregnancy among Adult U.S. Women.  Women’s Health Issues. 2017 Mar-Apr; 27(2): 145-151.  doi:

Lindley LL, Walsemann KM. Sexual Orientation and Risk of Pregnancy Among New York City High-School Students. Am J Public Health. 2015 July; 105(7): 1379-1386. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2015.302553.

Kornides ML, Kitsantas P, Lindley LL, Wu H. Factors Associated with Young Adults’ Pregnancy Likelihood. J Midwifery Womens Health. 2015 Mar-Apr;60(2):158-68.

Walsemann KM, Lindley LL, Gentile D, Welihindha SV. Educational Attainment by Life Course Sexual Attraction: Prevalence and Correlates in a Nationally Representative Sample of Young Adults. Popul Res Policy Rev. 2014 Aug;33(4):579-602.

Mink MD, Lindley LL, Weinstein AA. Stress, stigma, and sexual minority status: The intersectional ecology model of LGBTQ health. J Gay Lesbian Soc Serv. 2014; 26(4): 502-521.

Lindley L, Walsemann K, Carter J. Invisible and At Risk: STDs Among Young Adult Sexual Minority Women in the United States. Perspect Sex Reprod Health. 2013; 45(2):66-73.

Lindley L, Elkind J, Landi S, Brandt H. Receipt of the Human Papillomavirus Vaccine Among Female College Students in the United States, 2009. J Am Coll Health. 2013; 61(1):18-27. 

Lindley L, Friedman D, Struble C. Becoming Visible: Assessing the Availability of Online Sexual Health Information for Lesbians. Health Promot Pract. 2012; 13(4):472-480.

Lindley L, Walsemann K, Carter J. The Association of Sexual Orientation Measures with Young Adults' Health-related Outcomes. Am J Public Health. 2012; 102(6):1177-1185.

Lindley L, Barnett C, Brandt H, Hardin J, Burcin M. STDs Among Sexually Active Female College Students: Does Sexual Orientation Make a Difference? Perspect Sex Reprod Health. 2008; 40(4):212-217.


Lindley LL, Walsemann KM. Op-ed: Why Is There an Epidemic of Pregnancy Among Queer Youth? The Advocate. June 3, 2015.

For Interviews

Dr. Lindley is available for interviews. Please contact Danielle Hawkins via email or at 703-993-1931. Journalists on deadline, or after hours, are advised to contact the Community Engagement office by email rather than office phone. Please put ON DEADLINE in the subject of the email, and be as specific as possible with your request.

Things To Know

  • In research, at least three dimensions of sexual orientation can be measured: 1) sexual attraction; 2) sexual behavior; and 3) sexual identity.
  • Sexual attraction refers to the feelings of romantic or sexual interest toward another person. Researchers measure the sex(es) or gender(s) to which individuals are attracted.
  • Sexual behavior refers to different activities (oral, vaginal, anal intercourse, etc.) that someone engages in with partners of the same sex, opposite sex, or both sexes. This is becoming a less accurate measure as more people are having sexual and romantic relationships with transgender individuals.
  • Sexual identity is how a person labels their sexual orientation (gay, lesbian, bisexual, or heterosexual). However, other identities are frequently used to label one’s sexual orientation (asexual, pansexual, and queer).
  • These three dimensions do not necessarily align in people. For example, a person may be attracted to someone of the same sex but not act on those feelings (only has sexual relationships with the opposite sex) and identifies as heterosexual, or someone may identify as bisexual and only have same sex partners.
  • Most people are concordant across the three dimensions; they are attracted to the opposite sex, only have opposite sex partners, and identify as heterosexual. However, many people, especially females, are discordant across the three dimensions.
  • Asking questions about the different dimensions of sexual orientation allows researchers to more comprehensively examine the role of sexual orientation as a predictor of health, social, and economic outcomes.

Pregnant woman

Media Response

Savage Love Letter of the Day: Why Is My Gay Son Hooking Up With a Girl?
The Stranger
Sexual-minority students who were sexually active were about twice as likely as other students to report becoming pregnant or getting someone pregnant. Read The Stranger.

Pregnancy Risk Among Sexual Minority Youth
NEJM Journal Watch
School and community pregnancy prevention programs targeted only towards heterosexual youth or youth with only opposite-sex partners will miss many youth at risk for becoming or getting a partner pregnant. Read NEJM Journal Watch.

Pregnancies More Common Among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Youths
Reuters Health
Pregnancies are more common among lesbian, gay, bisexual youths than among their heterosexual counterparts, suggests a new study of New York City high school students. Read the Reuters Health story.

Study: Pregnancy More Common Among LGBT Teens
Gay, lesbian, and bisexual youths are more likely to get pregnancy than their heterosexual peers. Read the HLN story.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Youth Have Higher Pregnancy Rates
In a finding that may seem surprising, lesbian, gay and bisexual young people surveyed in a new study showed higher rates of “pregnancy involvement” (becoming pregnant or getting a partner pregnant) than straight youths. Read the UnitedHealthcare story.

Pregnancies More Common Among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Youths
Healthy Living
Overall, sexual-minority students who were sexually active were about twice as likely as other students to report becoming pregnant or getting someone pregnant, researchers found. Read the Healthy Living story.

Gay Teenagers Are More Likely to Have Unwanted Pregnancies
The Young Turks
George Mason University did a study of teenagers and unwanted pregnancy among heterosexuals and homosexuals. Ana Kasparian (The Point), Karomo Brown, and Becca Frucht hosts of The Young Turks discuss. Watch The Young Turks video.

Teens Who Sleep With People of the Same Sex Are Actually More Likely to Get Pregnant
According to a new study from George Mason University, students who sleep with both men and women are getting pregnant more often than their heterosexual peers. Read the Cosmopolitan story.

Why Are Gay and Bisexual Teens More Likely to Get Pregnant?
You might not think that unplanned pregnancies would be a major issue for LGB people, but a new study finds that lesbian, gay and bisexual teenagers who have had sex with a member of the opposite sex are more likely to have children than their straight counterparts. Read the Care2 story.

Teens Who Sleep With Same Sex Report Higher Rates of Pregnancy
A new study out of George Mason University reports that lesbian, gay, bisexual and questioning high school students who sleep with both males and females experience higher rates of pregnancy than their heterosexual counterparts. Read the Vocativ story.

Gay, Bisexual Teens More Likely to Get Pregnant Than Straight Peers: Study
New York Daily News
Gay and bisexual teens are twice as likely to get pregnant than their heterosexual peers, says a shocking new study of New York City teens. Read the New York Daily News story.

US: Are LGB Teens More Likely to Get Pregnant?
Out in Perth
A new study from the US published in the American Journal of Public Health reveals that teenagers who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual may be at a higher risk of unplanned pregnancy than their heterosexual peers. Read the Out in Perth story.

Study: Gay and Bisexual Teens Twice as Likely to Get Pregnant
Gay Star News
Gay and bisexual teens are about twice as likely to become or get someone pregnant than their straight peers. Read the Gay Star News story.