IVF Facts
June 5, 2024
10 min

Breaking Barriers: Addressing LGBTQIA+ Discrimination in Fertility Care

In honor of Pride Month this year, we want to shed light on the discrimination faced by LGBTQIA+ individuals and couples seeking fertility care.

According to a 2020 study by Family Equality*, nearly one-third of LGBTQIA+ respondents in the US reported challenges accessing essential healthcare due to financial constraints and associated costs. Unlike heterosexual couples who may qualify for insurance coverage for fertility treatments after a specific period of trying to conceive, many LGBTQIA+ couples are excluded from this coverage due to the traditional definition of "infertility." This exclusion forces them to pay everything themselves for their family-building journey without any support.

This discrimination doesn't just pose financial obstacles; it also takes a toll on mental health and can even lead to the premature termination of fertility treatment. These facts show the urgent need for healthcare systems to prioritize improved affordability and accessibility for LGBTQIA+ individuals and couples seeking fertility care.

A Change in Numbers

In the 2020 study, it was found that 48% of LGBTQIA+ Millennials (aged 18–35) are planning to start families, compared to 55% of heterosexual Millennials (Fig. 1). This gap has become smaller compared to older generations. Another change from the past is that 63% of LGBTQIA+ Millennials planning families expect to use assisted reproductive technology, foster care, or adoption instead of having kids through intercourse (Fig. 2).

Fig. 1 (Family Equality, 2020)
Fig. 2 (Family Equality, 2020)

Inclusive Advancements

Advancements in reproductive technology and legal frameworks have improved access to surrogacy services for LGBTQIA+ individuals and couples in certain countries. However, surrogacy remains prohibited in others. Additionally, LGBTQIA+ inclusive fertility clinics and legal and policy changes have played significant roles in enhancing access to fertility care for LGBTQIA+ individuals and couples, making a notable difference in their reproductive journey. Next to sperm and egg banking, donor matching platforms have made family planning much easier for people from the LGBTQIA+ community.

But despite the improvements and the huge increase in numbers of the LGBTQIA+ community planning to grow a family, discrimination, and barriers persist in fertility care, even in 2024. Healthcare providers must prepare to meet the needs of LGBTQIA+ individuals and couples seeking family-building options for a more inclusive healthcare system.

Tips for More Inclusive Fertility Care

Here is a list of ways to provide more inclusive fertility care to the LGBTQIA+ community:

  1. Education and Training: Provide comprehensive training for healthcare providers on LGBTQIA+ health issues and cultural sensitivity.
  2. Language and Communication: Use inclusive language and ask about preferred names and pronouns.
  3. Policy and Procedure: Implement anti-discrimination policies and ensure equal access to fertility treatments.
  4. Affordability and Accessibility: Advocate for insurance coverage and financial assistance programs.
  5. Support and Counseling: Offer LGBTQIA+-affirming counseling and support groups.
  6. Family-building Options: Provide information on diverse family-building options.

This Pride Month but also every other day of the year, let's commit to dismantling barriers and ensuring that all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, have equal access to quality fertility care and the opportunity to build the families they desire.


*Source: Family Equality (2020, July 2nd). LGBTQ Family Building Survey - Family Equality. Retrieved from https://www.familyequality.org/fbs on June 4, 2024.