To qualitatively explore and describe fertility information-seeking experiences of sexual minority women (SMW) couples using assisted reproduction.
Qualitative thematic analysis of 30 semistructured, in-depth individual and dyadic interviews with SMW couples.
Twenty self-identified lesbian, bisexual, and queer women comprising 10 same-sex cisfemale couples (10 gestational and 10 nongestational partners) using assisted reproduction technology in the United States.
Main Outcome Measure(s)
We describe how SMW came to learn about ways to achieve pregnancy through information seeking, acquisition, appraisal, and use.
Analysis revealed three primary themes. First, uncertainty and information scarcity: SMW have basic knowledge about how to conceive but uncertainty persists due to information scarcity regarding how same-sex couples navigate assisted reproduction. Second, women attempt to collect fragmented information from disparate sources. The participants discussed a mixture of formal and informal, online, textual (books), and in-person seeking, finding, and synthesizing information that ranged from reliable to unreliable and from accurate to inaccurate. Finally, persistent heteronormative communication focused on the needs and conditions of male-female couples who experienced subfertility or infertility, rather than barriers related to social constraints and the absence of gametes that SMW sought to overcome.
These findings support and extend existing evidence that has focused primarily on online fertility information seeking. Our findings suggest that shifts in fundamental assumptions about who seeks assisted reproductive support and why, together with improvements in fertility-related health communication, may result in more inclusive care for this population.