BACKGROUND: More and more lesbian couples are planning parenthood through donor insemination and IVF and the number of planned lesbian families is growing in Sweden and other western countries. Research has shown that lesbian couples report as much overall satisfaction in their relationships as do heterosexual couples. However, although parenthood is highly desired, many parents are unaware of the demands of parenthood and the strain on their relationship that the arrival of the baby might bring. The aim of this study was to compare lesbian and heterosexual couples' perceptions of relationship satisfaction at a three-year follow up after assisted reproduction.
METHODS: The present study is a part of the Swedish study on gamete donation, a prospective longitudinal cohort study. The present study constitutes a three-year follow up assessment of lesbian and heterosexual couples after assisted reproduction. Participants requesting assisted reproduction at all fertility clinics performing gamete donation in Sweden, were recruited consecutively during 2005-2008. A total of 114 lesbian women (57 treated women and 57 partners) and 126 heterosexual women and men (63 women and 63 men) participated. Participants responded to the ENRICH inventory at two time points during 2005-2011; at the commencement of treatment (time point 1) and about three years after treatment termination (time point 3). To evaluate the bivariate relationships between the groups (heterosexual and lesbian) and socio-demographic factors Pearson's Chi- square test was used. Kolmogorov-Smirnov test was used for testing of normality, Mann-Whitney U- test to examine differences in ENRICH between the groups and paired samples t-test to examine scores over time.
RESULTS: Lesbian couples reported higher relationship satisfaction than heterosexual couples, however the heterosexual couples satisfaction with relationship quality was not low. Both lesbian and heterosexual couples would be classified accordingly to ENRICH-typology as vitalized or harmonious couples.
CONCLUSIONS: At a follow-up after assisted reproduction with donated sperm, lesbian couples reported stable relationships and a high satisfaction with their relationships, even when treatment was unsuccessful.