Fertility Treatment More Likely in White Women

Finding highlights need for better access to reproductive health care for all women.
Finding highlights need for better access to reproductive health care for all women.

White, straight women are much more likely to seek treatment for infertility than minority, bisexual or lesbian women, according to a study published online in Health Psychology.

Researchers examined data gathered from nearly 20,000 American women, aged 21 to 44, who took part in polls in 2002 and 2006 to 2010, conducted as part of the National Survey of Family Growth study.

In the first poll, 13 percent of white, heterosexual women said they sought treatment for infertility. This ranged from getting advice from doctors to more advanced measures such as fertility testing and drugs, surgery, and artificial insemination. In comparison, infertility treatment was sought by 7 percent of minority heterosexual women, 7 percent of white lesbian and bisexual women, and 1 percent racial minority lesbian and bisexual women.

The numbers in the second poll were 13, 6, 7, and 7 percent, respectively. Lack of insurance was a major reason why minority lesbian and bisexual women didn't seek infertility treatments, the researchers found.

"White, heterosexual women have apparently been the prime beneficiaries of the recent surge in medical infertility treatments," study author Bernadette Blanchfield, a doctoral student at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, said in a journal news release.

"There have been relatively few studies addressing the sexual and reproductive health of lesbian and bisexual women, but these findings reveal that sexual minority women do face inequities in fertility care."

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