Gay Parents Face Same Sexual And Relationship Challenges As Straight Couples: San Francisco Study

Whether it's finding time for sex or ensuring a monogamous relationship, the trials and tribulations of same-sex couples' parenting aren't much different than their heterosexual counterparts after all, a new study has found.

More specifically, the new San Francisco State University (SFSU) study took a closer look at sexual relationships and physical intimacy between 48 gay male couples who are raising children together, and researchers found that those parents had less time and energy for sex after experiencing the lifestyle changes that result from parenting.

"When gay couples become parents, they become very focused on the kids, they are tired, there is less time for communication and less desire for sex," Colleen Hoff, professor of sexuality studies at SFSU, is quoted by Medical Daily as saying. "They go through a lot of the same changes as heterosexual couples who have kids."

One of the study's participants is quoted by LiveScience as saying, "Seeing [my partner] as a caring, loving father has deepened my love and respect for him…I wouldn't have known those parts of him had we not had children. I think the experience of having children has let us each develop parts of ourselves that the other would not have seen."

As a number of different publications have pointed out, however, the study -- which was published in the journal Couple and Family Psychology -- showed that although parenting often prompted many of the men to "avoid risky sexual behavior" and thus decreasing HIV risk, it had little impact on whether the couples opted for either a monogamous or an open sexual relationship.

"Many fathers said they feel a sense of responsibility toward their children which motivates them to avoid risky sexual behavior," Hoff is quoted as saying. Still, she added, "For the most part, those who were monogamous before becoming parents said they stayed with that arrangement. Those who had open relationships before having children reported that they kept to that agreement."

Hoff went on to note, "Some men felt that there is this assumption that if you are a gay parent you are monogamous. This kind of stigma around gay parents' sexuality could be a concern if gay fathers are reluctant to talk to their physician about their sexual agreement and get tested for HIV."

Of course, this latest research comes on the heels of a controversial study suggesting downsides for children raised by same-sex couples. That study, published earlier this month in the journal Social Science Research, was conducted by researcher Mark Regnerus, a sociologist at the University of Texas.

A number of high-profile scientists have debunked Regnerus' findings as being "deeply flawed," including New York University sociologist Judith Stacey, who was not involved in the research. "[Regnerus] doesn't have an actual category of gay parents in the project that you can isolate and say the most important thing in this kid's childhood is that they were raised by gay parents," Stacey was quoted by LiveScience as saying.