ABSTRACT

The ethnic patterning of health in the UK is well established, with studies exploring this in relation to a wide range of diseases, conditions and healthcare experiences (Nazroo, 1997; Aspinall and Jacobson, 2004; Sproston and Mindell, 2006; Bhopal 2007). Despite a strong and long-established regulatory context for fertility treatment, extensive anti-discrimination legislation and the fact that ethnicity monitoring has been mandatory in the National Health Service (NHS) since 1995, there are no published data in the UK on ethnic differences in the prevalence of infertility, or on the ethnic background of those receiving fertility treatment.1 The national body that regulates fertility treatment, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), has extrapolated from the UK Census data that a quarter of a million people from ‘non-white’ groups will face infertility; this includes 136,000 individuals of South Asian heritage (HFEA, 2006).2 However, within the UK there is relatively little empirical research that explores how the experience of infertility is shaped by ethnic identity, particularly in minority communities (see Culley, Chapter 1). It has been suggested by some authors that this failure of research to explore the impact of ethnicity reflects a racist perception that minority women have ‘too many’ babies (Roberts, 1997; Ceballo, 1999; Katbamna, 2000; Inhorn et al, Chapter 11).