Sexual Minorities and Reproductive Health: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of Sexual Minority Experiences with Assisted Reproductive Technology and Fertility Challenges




Shiplett-Jupe, Melissa

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Although reproduction is an instinct of all living beings (Hocaoglu, 2018), sexual minorities were assumed socially infertile through construction of a same-sex relationship prior to the advent of fertility treatment methods (Barnett, 2006). Despite advances in equal rights, reproductive health, fertility, and fertility treatments are placed in a heterosexual context. Placement of sexual minorities in heteronormative systems continue to marginalize this population. By the CDC (2019) definition, sexual minorities do not meet requirements of infertility despite indicators of impaired fertility functioning. The purpose of this study was to understand the experiences of sexual minorities in same-sex relationships at time of fertility treatment and facing impaired fertility functioning. An Interpretative Phenomenological methodology was conducted throughout design, implementation, and presentation. Ten sexual minority cisgender females participated in the study. Following the analysis described by Smith et al.,(2009), the interviews were transcribed, examined, building on initial commentary to create emergent themes within individual cases. Data analysis then scanned across the individual cases to create superordinate themes describing the essence of the experience. Four superordinate themes were formed and ten subthemes. Three of these subthemes are divided into seven additional supporting themes. The four major themes include: Marriage Equality and Family Formation, Family Formation and Fertility Impairment Impacting the Personal, Experiences of Heteronorming and Cisgendering Reproductive Health, and Accessibility. The findings suggest implications for practicing counselors, counselor educators, and supervisors.


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Fertility Treatments, Impaired Fertility, Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, Reproductive Health, Sexual Minority