Infertility refers to the inability of a couple to reproduce by natural means. A new study has revealed that same-sex couples face more obstacles in infertility treatment than opposite-sex couples.
Study author Ann. V. Bell, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Delaware said, "Same-sex couples often must undergo psychological evaluations before being treated for infertility, a process that is not normally required for opposite-sex couples. The 95 people who were interviewed for the study, 41 heterosexual women of low socioeconomic status, 30 heterosexual men, and 24 women in same-sex relationships are on the margins of our understandings of infertility, as it is generally viewed as a white, wealthy, heterosexual woman's issue."
The researchers found that the experiences related to infertility of the 41 women she interviewed for her book were shaped by inaccurate stereotypes and that doctors often assumed infertility was not a problem for them. Bell extended her earlier study beyond social class to include the effects of infertility on men and same-sex couples.
Bell said, "The medicalization of infertility, studying and treating it as a medical condition, is a process that has increasingly led to disparities and inequalities. Infertility is still viewed as a woman's issue. Most of the research out there is about women, even though just as many men are affected by infertility. Overall, researchers and the public focus a lot on the negative aspects of medicalization, but the medical advances that have been made are often very beneficial. The important thing is to recognize the kinds of inequalities that this medicalization is perpetuating and other new ones that it's creating."
The study will be presented at the ongoing three-day 110th annual meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA) in Chicago.