The Lamen

New infertility definition is “more inclusive” of LGBTQ+ and single parents

A bar graph for the breast cancer rates among women of different ethnicities.

A new infertility definition doesn’t look to redefine the condition. It attempts to open the gates of treatment to different communities.

Photo: Bing AI

Published on Oct 25, 2023

A broadened definition of “infertility” could help single individuals and LGBTQ+ couples — opening up new avenues for treating “social infertility.”

The revised, more expansive definition of infertility now includes:

  • The inability to get pregnant because of a patient’s medical, sexual, and reproductive history, age, physical findings, and diagnostic testing.
  • The need for medical intervention including (but not limited to) donor eggs, sperm, or embryo — for couples as well as single people.

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s (ASRM) revised definition “reflects that all persons, regardless of marital status, sexual status, or gender identity, deserve equal access to reproductive medicine.”

Infertility was previously defined as the inability of a heterosexual couple to get pregnant with

  • 12 months of unprotected intercourse or intrauterine insemination in case of women younger than 35
  • 6 months in case of women 35 and older

While the diagnostic and treatment guidelines remain unchanged for heterosexual couples, they tackle the disproportionate challenges faced by LGBTQ+ couples: having to pay for multiple rounds of intrauterine insemination injections out of their pocket — a “queer tax” — before being eligible for insurance.

Scholars, activists, and policymakers have been urging for a revised definition of infertility to include “social infertility” — afflicting people who “wish to conceive” but are deprived due to minimal access to assisted reproductive technology (ARTs).

  • 63 percent of LGBTQ+ millennials expect to use ART, foster care, or adoption to become parents.
  • However, even a single IVF cycle can cost close to $25,000 — and insurers aren’t looking to cover more than they already do.
  • While 21 U.S. states plus D.C. have passed fertility insurance coverage, only eight of those states extend the coverage to LGBTQ+ and single parents, noted Axios.

On the surface: Embracing a new definition is building upon the idea of equal rights — giving momentum to the conversation of expanded access to reproductive treatment.

Infertility is often seen as a developmental crisis, with patients harboring feelings of shame and secrecy. Even as ARTs become more commonplace, several developed nations struggle with embracing treatment. The extension of rights to “intending” LGBTQ+ and single parents-to-be hopes to change that.