Reproductive Rounds

Diversity, equity, and inclusion in reproductive health care


A disproportionate and unique number of obstacles exist in reproductive health care for patients based on race, ethnicity, geography, socioeconomic, LGBTQ+, and disability status. These barriers represent inequality in access to reproductive medical services.

These challenges are also seen in other reproductive disorders such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), fibroids, and endometriosis. It is estimated that < 25% of individuals with infertility in the United States access the resources required to have their treatment needs met (Fertil Steril. 2015 Nov;104(5):1104-10. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2015.07.113)

Dr. Trolice is director of The IVF Center in Winter Park, Fla., and   professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Central Florida, Orlando. Fertility CARE

Dr. Mark P. Trolice

In 2020, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) created a task force on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) chaired by Board Member Michael A. Thomas, MD. Two years later, the ASRM elevated this task force to a committee that is now chaired by Gloria Richard-Davis, MD. As health care systems and societies increasingly recognize these obstacles to care, I invited Dr. Thomas, the current president of the ASRM, to address this vital concern. Dr. Thomas is professor and chair, department of obstetrics and gynecology, at the University of Cincinnati.

While not limited to reproductive health care, how prevalent is the lack of DEI and what factors contribute to this problem?

When we established the initial ASRM DEI task force, we wanted to look at DEI issues within our profession and as an access-to-care initiative. We found that ASRM and ABOG (American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology) were not asking questions about the makeup of our REI (Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility) providers, nursing staff, and lab personnel. We had some older data from 2018 about the REI fellowships. Since that time, there appears to be an upward trend of people of color in REI fellowships.

Dr. Michael A. Thomas, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine University of Cincinnati

Dr. Michael A. Thomas

We still need more data about academic, hybrid, and private REI practices when it comes to all employees. The goal would be to increase the number of people of color in all aspects of our field.

As far as access to care, we know that people of color do not have the ability to undergo ART (assisted reproductive technology) procedures at the same rate. This could be due to affordability, slower and/or later referral patterns, and personal stigma issues. Even in mandated states, people of color are seen by IVF providers in lower numbers. There is a need for a better understanding of the access-to-care issues, especially when affordability is not a problem, and the barriers to our LGBTQ+ patients.

Can you provide information about actions by the ASRM DEI task force and any plans for the future?

The DEI task force is now an ASRM committee. This committee is chaired by Dr. Gloria Richard-Davis and continues to work on increasing people of color in the REI workforce and understanding and decreasing access to care issues faced by people of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community.


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