Cultural competence in fertility care for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people: a systematic review of patient and provider perspectives

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer patients face unique barriers in fertility care, such as heteronormativity, gender dysphoria, and lack of tailored information. This review describes solutions for equitable care.

VOLUME 115, ISSUE 5, P1294-1301


Abirami Kirubarajan, M.Sc., Priyanka Patel, M.D., Shannon Leung, M.P.H., Bomi Park, B.H.Sc., Sony Sierra, M.D.



To characterize the patient and provider perspectives on cultural competence in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) fertility care.


Systematic review.


Not applicable.


LGBTQ+ patients and their partners treated for fertility-related care; fertility providers who treat LGBTQ+ patients.


We conducted a systematic review following Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis guidelines of six databases: Medline-OVID, EMBASE, CINAHL, Cochrane Library, ClinicalTrials.Gov, and PsycInfo. Citations of full-text articles were hand-searched using the Scopus database. Eligible studies were assessed using the Risk of Bias Instrument for Cross-Sectional Surveys of Attitudes and Practices, as well as the Joanna Briggs Institute Critical Appraisal Checklist for Qualitative Research. All screening, extraction, and appraisal were completed in duplicate with two independent reviewers.

Main Outcome Measure(s)

Patient-reported or provider-reported views on LGBTQ+ cultural competence in fertility care, including barriers and facilitators to inclusive care.


Of the 1,747 original database citations, we included 25 studies that met the inclusion criteria. Of the 21 studies that evaluated patient perspectives, 13 studies targeted same-sex cisgender couples while the remainder targeted transgender and gender-nonconforming participants (n = 6) or any individual who identified as a sexual or gender minority (n = 2). Key barriers for LGBTQ+ participants included gender dysphoria, heteronormativity, stigmatization, and psychological distress. The lack of tailored information for LGBTQ+ populations was repeatedly highlighted as a concern. Promising solutions included tailored information, psychosocial interventions, gender-neutral language, and inclusive intake processes.


LGBTQ+ individuals face unique barriers in fertility care, as described by both patients and providers. This review describes a number of implementable solutions for equitable care, which should be given priority for both research and hospital interventions.