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Assessing the Usability, Acceptability, Inclusivity, and Preliminary Efficacy of a Novel Online Program Aimed to Promote Sexual Well-being Among Sexual and Gender/Sex Diverse New Parents

Researcher bios and how their research backgrounds relate to this study

My research focuses on understanding how individuals, and especially couples, cope with sexual problems or changes to their sexual relationship. The key contexts for my research are sexual dysfunction (e.g., genito-pelvic pain, low sexual desire) and major life events or transitions (e.g., infertility, the transition to parenthood)—which are typically linked to declines in sexual and relationship well-being. My work is interdisciplinary and the ultimate goal is to inform the development of better treatment options for affected couples.

Purpose of this research project

For new parents, maintaining a romantic relationship while caring for a newborn baby is challenging. Throughout the transition to parenthood (TtP), couples often experience changes to their sexual well-being including lower sexual desire and sexual satisfaction, and more sexual distress. After giving birth, over 90% of new parents report more than 10 sexual concerns, such as less time and energy for sex and larger differences in sexual desire between partners. Promoting sexual well-being during this transition is important, as sexual well-being is strongly related to health and quality of life. In particular, sexual-well-being has been linked to lower post-baby anxiety, depression, and stress, and is one of the top 5 factors which predict long-term relationship satisfaction. Although 2SLGBTQIA+ parents are likely to share these challenges, they also have unique experiences, such as the use of reproductive technologies, higher rates of discrimination from healthcare providers, and dissatisfaction with the quality of healthcare they receive, which is linked to their perceptions that clinicians lack knowledge of their specific health needs and abilities to provide gender affirming care. New parents report that they want information about sexual changes during the TtP but access to reliable information is not widely available. There are few interventions available to help couples overcome changes to their sexual well-being during the TtP with none addressing the needs of 2SLGBTQIA+ parents. Our team has developed the first evidenced-based, online program designed to enhance the sexual well-being of all couples during the TtP. Considering the unique experiences of 2SLGBTQIA+ parents, this study aims to capture their lived experiences as they complete our program using interviews and surveys to examine whether it is feasible, acceptable, and inclusive and establish initial evidence of whether it can help 2SLGBTQIA+ couples maintain their sexual well-being as they become parents.

How this research will help LGBT2SQ people and communities

Our novel prevention program has the potential to promote the quality, longevity, and stability of new parents’ relationships including 2SLGBTQIA+ parents, which is beneficial for family and child outcomes. This research may improve care for vulnerable populations by providing a much-needed focus on 2SLGBTQIA+ parents and ensuring our program is inclusive of their unique experiences. Results will be crucial to informing a larger randomized controlled trial of the STORK program that is inclusive of 2SLGBTQIA+ couples.

Participants

To participate, at least one couple member must identify as part of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. Additionally, participants must be able to read and understand English; be over the age of 18; married or living together with their romantic partner for at least 12 months; and one of the partners must be up to 22-weeks’ pregnant with their first baby.

Compensation

In addition to free access to the STORK program, you can receive $63 CAD or currency equivalent ($126 CAD or currency equivalent per couple) for completing three surveys and attending an interview to let us know your thoughts.

Mitigation measures

We expect minimal distress to participants as a result of being part of this research study. We engaged two 2SLGBTQIA+ patient partners who were either expecting or within two years postpartum of their first child to provide input at each phase of this project. Weekly check-ins with a trained facilitator occur to help consolidate learning. A list of support materials are available for any participants.

Promoting the Study

Advertisements placed on online social networks, free websites, community posters, and development of community partnerships.