The findings come from a dissertation entitled Same, same but different: Lesbian couples undergoing sperm donation, which compares the quality of the couple relationship, mental health, and parental stress among lesbian and heterosexual couples who undergo assisted reproduction. The investigation was carried out from the beginning of the assisted-reproduction treatment to some three years after completion of the treatment.
"I have always been interested in questions of sexuality, familial bonds and the psychological aspects of becoming a parent," Catrin Borneskog, a midwife and doctoral student at the Uppsala University Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, told The Local on Wednesday.
The study gathered questionnaire data from 165 lesbian couples and 151 heterosexual couples. Since 2005, Sweden has allowed lesbian couples access to publicly-funded assisted reproduction.
"The period from planning to have a child, up to a year after the birth of the child, is especially sensitive. Undergoing assisted reproduction can make this period even more trying," Borneskog said. "Lesbian couples are moreover a relatively new group of patients and parents in Sweden that we thus far have little knowledge about."
On average, the lesbian and the heterosexual couples were about the same age when they received treatment – in their early thirties – but Borneskog said that the lesbian couples that partook in the study were overall a "group with high well-being who are comfortable in their relationship and show little anxiety or depression".
The study also showed that women in heterosexual relationships showed the most signs of being stressed. Heterosexual fathers and lesbian mothers showed less concern, however. Overall, Borneskog's research showed that a high level of satisfaction in a couple's relationship had associations with less parenting stress.