Same-sex couples face obstacles in infertility treatment

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Chicago, Aug 23 (IANS) Same-sex couples face more obstacles in infertility treatment than opposite-sex couples, reveals a new study.

“Same-sex couples often must undergo psychological evaluations before being treated for infertility — a process that is not normally required for opposite-sex couples,” said study author Ann. V. Bell, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Delaware.

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”, Bell said.

Bell’s study builds on her 2014 book “Misconception”, which focused on 41 women of low socioeconomic status as well as 17 women of high socio-economic status, to explore social class and infertility.

Bell 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 research beyond social class to include the effects of infertility on men and same-sex couples.

The “medicalisation” of infertility — studying and treating it as a medical condition — is a process that has increasingly led to disparities and inequalities, she said.

Infertility is still viewed as a woman’s issue, according to the researcher. “Most of the research out there is about women, even though just as many men are affected by infertility,” Bell said.

“Overall, researchers and the public focus a lot on the negative aspects of medicalisation, but the medical advances that have been made are often very beneficial,” Bell said.

“The important thing is to recognise the kinds of inequalities that this medicalisation 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) which began in Chicago on Saturday.

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