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Postpartum depression among visible and invisible sexual minority women: a pilot study

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Significant numbers of sexual minority women are choosing to parent. Despite this, there is limited research on postpartum depression (PPD) with sexual minority mothers and less research considering differences within sexual minority women in the experience of PPD. This research examines two questions to address this gap in research: (1) Do experiences of PPD symptoms vary between different subgroups of sexual minority women, and (2) Which recruitment strategies effectively address the challenge of recruiting sexual minority women who are pregnant?


Two Canadian studies recruited participants via consecutive or convenience sampling from midwifery clinics and hospital sites. Participants completed prenatal and postnatal measures of PPD symptoms, social support, and perceived discrimination.


Considering our first question, we found an interaction effect between past sexual behavior and current partner gender. Women currently partnered with men reported higher scores on the Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale when their sexual history included partners of more than one gender, whereas this effect was not found among women who were currently partnered with women or not partnered. Regarding our second question, most sexual minority participants recruited through convenience sampling were partnered with women and identified as lesbian or queer, while most participants recruited through consecutive sampling were partnered with men and identified as bisexual.


Women whose sexual histories include more than one gender and are currently partnered with men may be at a higher risk for PPD symptoms. Recruitment method may influence the type of sample recruited for perinatal mental health research among sexual minority women.

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This research was supported by the Lesbian Health Fund and by an operating grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, award number FRN-83384.

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The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

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Correspondence to Corey E. Flanders.

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Flanders, C.E., Gibson, M.F., Goldberg, A.E. et al. Postpartum depression among visible and invisible sexual minority women: a pilot study. Arch Womens Ment Health 19, 299–305 (2016).

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