Women’s Experiences Of Infertility

Authored by: Jessica L. Barnack-Tavlaris

Routledge International Handbook of Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health

Print publication date:  October  2019
Online publication date:  September  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138490260
eBook ISBN: 9781351035620
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781351035620-14

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Abstract

This chapter reviews the recent literature on women’s experiences of infertility. There are complex biopsychosocial factors that determine the impact of infertility on one’s identity, well-being, and relationships. After presenting information on the causes of and treatments for infertility, the chapter discusses the psychological impact of infertility. For example, sociocultural expectations such as pronatalism and the motherhood imperative have implications for a woman’s identity, and can contribute to psychological distress while experiencing infertility. The burden of infertility and the ways in which women cope can be understood in part by examining the sociocultural construction of women’s bodies and reproduction. Women coping with infertility need and seek support in a variety of ways; however, the experience of infertility can affect women’s relationships with the exact people to whom they may turn for support. Informed health care providers can anticipate some of the struggles their infertility patients/clients may face, and empower them to seek out all forms of social support, and adaptive coping strategies such as relaxation techniques, emotional support, distraction, and benefit finding. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the limitations of the extant literature and recommendations for future research.

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