Department

Psychology, Professional

Date of Paper/Work

Spring 5-14-2019

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)

Type of Paper/Work

Dissertation

Advisors

Tatyana Ramirez, Lenny Jennings

Abstract

Infertility and the inability to achieve biological parenthood is a painful experience for women and couples around the world. Most of the current research on the psychological aspects of infertility utilizes quantitative methodology, with few studies addressing the lived experiences of women struggling with this condition. The goal of this investigation was to explore the complex psychological impact of infertility on women facing a difficulty becoming pregnant. Qualitative means of inquiry were used to capture subjective experiences of five women who took part in semi-structured interviews and whose stories were analyzed using thematic analyses. Six overarching themes were identified: Ambiguous Nature of Experience of Infertility, Impact on Identity, Impact on Relationships, Emotional Impact of Infertility, Loss and Grief, and Coping. Results of this investigation have revealed that women experience infertility as an ambiguous loss wherein there is no tangible physical loss and no sense of closure. Furthermore, participants shared how deeply infertility impacts all areas of their lives, including identities, relationships with family, friends, and co-workers, marriages, and outlook on their present and future lives. This experience was accompanied by a profound emotional response, such as grief, anxiety, fear, but also hope. Women in this sample managed experiences of infertility by engaging in a wide range of positive (e.g., practicing self-care, seeking social support) and maladaptive (e.g., making negative predictions, tempering hope) strategies.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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