Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 48, Issue 1, pp 277–289 | Cite as

Paths to Parenthood Among Self-Identified Bisexual Individuals in the United States

  • Jessamyn BowlingEmail author
  • Brian Dodge
  • Elizabeth Bartelt
  • Megan Simmons
  • J. Dennis Fortenberry
Special Section: Bisexual Health


Bisexual parents have been notably absent from prior research on parenting, despite comprising the largest proportion of parents among “lesbian, gay, and bisexual” (LGB) individuals. Indeed, recent national probability data indicate that young bisexual women are more likely than their heterosexual counterparts to report having at least one child. Intentions to have children, patterns of family planning and contraception use, and related issues have important implications for health and healthcare-related decisions and priorities among bisexual parents. We conducted in-depth interviews with a sample of 33 bisexual parents from across the U.S. who reported having at least one child (genetic, adopted, step or foster child, guardian, and/or warden of the state). In cases of intentional pregnancies, participants considered relationship and financial stability, job security and their ideal family size. Unintentional pregnancies, as well as pregnancy terminations, were often reframed as positive experiences. After deciding not to have more children, participants reported using contraceptive methods, including sterilization or long-acting reversible contraceptive methods (e.g., intrauterine devices). Instances of deception, in which partners deceived participants with false beliefs regarding their contraceptive use, were recalled negatively for the relatively small number of participants who reported such experiences. Overall, our findings point to a diversity in the intentions and ways bisexual individuals become parents, similar to parents of other sexual identities. Acknowledgements of the diverse experiences and concerns faced by bisexual parents may be beneficial in improving efforts related to providing appropriate and relevant health- and healthcare-related services.


Bisexual Parenting Pregnancy intention Assisted reproductive technology (ART) Contraception 



This study was funded by a grant from the American Institute of Bisexuality. We would like to thank the participants for sharing their experiences with us. We also appreciate the coding insights of Christopher Owens, as well as transcription efforts of Karly Beavers, Elyse Johnson, Haeun Cho, and Kirstin Clephane.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


This study was funded by the American Institute of Bisexuality.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Public Health SciencesUniversity of North Carolina at CharlotteCharlotteUSA
  2. 2.Center for Sexual Health PromotionIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  3. 3.Center for Human Sexuality StudiesWidener UniversityChesterUSA
  4. 4.School of MedicineIndiana UniversityIndianapolisUSA

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